Book Review: Thief’s Mark by Carla Neggers—and a Giveaway!

Thief’s Mark
A Sharpe & Donovan Novel #8
Carla Neggers
MIRA, August 2017
ISBN 978-0-778-33031-8

From the publisher—

A murder in a quiet English village, long-buried secrets and a man’s search for answers about his traumatic past entangle FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan in the latest edge-of-your-seat Sharpe & Donovan novel 

As a young boy, Oliver York witnessed the murder of his wealthy parents in their London apartment. The killers kidnapped him and held him in an isolated Scottish ruin, but he escaped, thwarting their plans for ransom. Now, after thirty years on the run, one of the two men Oliver identified as his tormentors may have surfaced.  

Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan are enjoying the final day of their Irish honeymoon when a break-in at the home of Emma’s grandfather, private art detective Wendell Sharpe, points to Oliver. The Sharpes have a complicated relationship with the likable, reclusive Englishman, an expert in Celtic mythology and international art thief who taunted Wendell for years. Emma and Colin postpone meetings in London with their elite FBI team and head straight to Oliver. But when they arrive at York’s country home, a man is dead and Oliver has vanished. 

As the danger mounts, new questions arise about Oliver’s account of his boyhood trauma. Do Emma and Colin dare trust him? With the trail leading beyond Oliver’s small village to Ireland, Scotland and their own turf in the United States, the stakes are high, and Emma and Colin must unravel the decades-old tangle of secrets and lies before a killer strikes again.  

My favorite mystery setting, an English village, and a pair of FBI agents who are definitely out of their geographic element…what more could I want? Throw in an art thief (which I’ve always found fun and exciting, probably because these art thieves are daring and, well, sort of James Bond-ish, even the women) and a heinous crime from the past and the stage is set for an engrossing read.

Emma’s grandfather is an art detective in the private collector realm and has a strange tale for Emma and Colin. It seems that he’s had a break-in by someone apparently interested in items connected to one Oliver York. To add a little more mystique, Oliver used to be an accomplished art thief but then became an MI5 agent. Emma and Colin have years-long ties to Oliver through both of his professions but, when a dead man is found at his home, the case becomes ever-expanding and eventually involves multiple countries and law enforcement organizations.

While this is part of the Sharpe & Donovan series, it’s essentially a standalone and focuses largely on Oliver. He is a fascinating man and he makes it easy to understand why cops and robbers sometimes can’t help liking and even respecting each other. Emma and Colin are a delightful couple as well as being really good agents and Oliver’s colleague, Henrietta, is a force of nature but it’s Wendell, Emma’s grandfather, who really stole my heart. All in all, Thief’s Mark was a grand introduction, for me, to this series and the rest of the books are going on my wishlist right now.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2017.


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About the Author

Carla Neggers is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 60 novels, including her popular Sharpe and Donovan and Swift River Valley series. Her books have been translated into 24 languages and sold in over 35 countries. A frequent traveler to Ireland, Carla lives with her family in New England. To learn more and to sign up for her newsletter, visit

Connect with Carla:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


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Book Review: Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison—and a Giveaway!

Lie to Me
J.T. Ellison
MIRA, September 2017
ISBN 978-0-778-31364-9
Also available in trade paperback and ebook

From the publisher—

They built a life on lies

Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

Are Sutton and Ethan Montclair a so-called normal couple? My word, we can only hope not because they’re about as shallow, selfish and generally unpleasant as any two people can be and perhaps the best thing about them is that they’re tied to each other, thereby saving two other people from horrible marriages.

Once upon a time, this power couple probably cared about each other but even that is doubtful as Ethan admits to himself that he pretty much picked Sutton to be his wife because she looked and sounded good. Still, he is initially sorrowful when he finds her farewell note…until when he realizes she may have done away with herself and his next reaction is intense anger that she did this to him. We don’t know much about her yet but, clearly, he has conflicting feelings about her and that makes him just a little more human, more likeable or, at least, worthy of our compassion. Maybe.

The fact is, this is a too perfect couple and it’s really no surprise that the police would suspect him of harming his missing wife, even beyond the suspicions that naturally fall upon the spouse in such a case. One detective, Holly Graham, isn’t so sure and she’s about to become intensely important to both Ethan and the absent Sutton.

As I followed the story, my emotions were a roller coaster, switching back and forth between sympathy for Ethan and certainty that he’s not to be trusted. At the same time, there were musings from someone else who was distinctly unbalanced so was it possible Ethan really was innocent? As the hunt for Sutton intensified, so did the tension and there were moments that were downright creepy and unnerving. When the truth finally came out, all the twists and turns had turned my stomach in knots.

Of course, I always find myself up very late at night when I pick up one of Ms. Ellison’s books and this is most certainly not an exception. Be prepared to miss a night’s sleep 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2017.


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About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes standalone domestic noir and psychological thriller series, the latter starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the international thriller series “A Brit in the FBI” with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the Emmy Award-winning show, “A Word on Words”, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband.

Connect with J. T.:





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J.T. Ellison, just leave
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“Wonderful… A one-more-chapter, don’t-eat-dinner, stay-up-late
sensation.” – Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Fans of GONE GIRL will gobble up this thriller about a marriage
from hell, which moves at a blazing-fast pace and smoothly negotiates
more twists and turns than the backroads of Tennessee. J.T. Ellison will
keep you guessing every step of the way to the surprise ending!”
-Lisa Scottoline, New York Times bestselling author of ONE PERFECT LIE


Book Reviews: Love Lies Bleeding by Jess McConkey, Where All the Dead Lie by J. T. Ellison, Fever Dream by Dennis Palumbo, Collateral Damage by H. Terrell Griffin, and No Bells by F.M. Meredith

Love Lies Bleeding
Jess McConkey
William Morrow, July 2011
ISBN No. 978-0-06-199968-0
Trade Paperback

Love Lies Bleeding has a little bit of everything to offer.  A bit of mystery, a little bit of woo woo and a good cast of characters.

Samantha Moore has lived a very successful life.  Samantha holds a prominent position in her father’s company and is engaged to Jackson, a man who had presented her with a beautiful diamond and a promise of a wonderful life.

Then  tragedy hit. Samantha is attacked when leaving work and is in a coma for sometime.  When she awakes from the coma, she is quite a different person.  She repeatedly relives the attack and rebels against the medication prescribed for her.  The meds make her sick and forgetful.

Jackson and Samantha’s father decide that Samantha needs to spend some quiet time to recover and rent a cottage for her in a quiet town.  Spirits from the past seem to haunt the cottage and Samantha begins to believe that she is losing all control over her life.

When Anne Weaver decides to take the position as nurse to Samantha, both lives are changed. The two clash but soon find a middle ground and Samantha begins on her road to recovery.  Samantha also bit by bit pieces together the history of the cottage she is living in and reveals a long buried mystery.

The author, Jess McConkey, also writes under the name of Shirley Damsgaard.    I found this book to be a very fast read.  I will be anxious to read more stories by Jess McConkey.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, October 2011.


Where All the Dead Lie
J.T. Ellison
Mira, September 2011
ISBN No. 978-0778312680
Trade Paperback

This is my first Taylor Jackson novel but it won’t be my last.  The story grabs the reader and doesn’t let go until the entire story is revealed.

Taylor Jackson is a Nashville, Tennessee homicide detective.  Taylor is recovering from a case where she was shot in the head and fellow officers were injured.  Taylor has lost her ability to speak.  It is unclear whether the loss of speech is caused by the injury or by the guilt Taylor is feeling because she didn’t do more to help her best friend who lost her child because of the case that brought about Taylor’s injury.

Against the advice of Taylor’s fiancée, Dr. John Baldwin, she accepts the offer of Memphis Highsmythe, an old friend, for Taylor to recuperate in his family’s estate in Scotland.  Taylor knows that Memphis has romantic feelings towards her but feels that she is strong enough to handle any advances he might possibly make.  Highsmythe is a detective inspector with the Metropolitan Police in London and Taylor and Memphis have a lot in common.

Memphis introduces Taylor to Madeira James, a doctor friend, in the hope that she can be of help to Taylor with the problem with her voice but Taylor begins to believe that Madeira is not to be trusted.

The trip to Scotland turns into a real adventure with even a ghost or two making an appearance.  Even though Taylor’s voice is giving her problems, she is able to sift through all the strange happenings and solve the puzzle presented to her in Scotland.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, November 2011.


Fever Dream
Dennis Palumbo
Poisoned Pen Press, November 2011
ISBN No. 978-1590589595
Trade Paperback

“Treva Williams, the only hostage to be released, sat on the curb beyond the cordoned-off area, wrapped in an EMT blanket.”  This sentence is the opening line in Fever Dream and immediately captures the reader’s sympathy for Treva.

Meanwhile, Detective Eleanor Lowrey is on the phone to Daniel Rinaldi, psychologist.  Rinaldi is also a trauma expert and consults with the Pittsburgh police.  Detective Lowrey asks Rinaldi to come right away to the scene of a bank robbery that has gone bad.  The criminals are still inside the bank but one hostage, Treva Williams, has been released.   Treva is badly traumatized and Detective Lowrey is hoping that Rinaldi can perform some magic that will calm Treva and help the police in their handling of the standoff situation.

When Rinaldi arrives on the scene he is able to immediately connect with Treva and learn a little more about the situation inside the bank.  Then suddenly everything explodes as shots ring out and police converge on the scene.  Rinaldi promises Treva to ride to the hospital with her in the ambulance, though he is prevented from keeping that promise.

Rinaldi works with Detective Lowrey and Sgt. Harry Polk, another investigating officer, but Polk’s mind seems to be someplace other than the investigation and at times he drops out of sight and doesn’t appear where he is supposed to be.

When District Attorney Leland Sinclair receives a death threat, Rinaldi begins to wonder if there is a connection between the situation at the bank and the DA Sinclair’s current political campaign.  Rinaldi continues to stay in touch with Treva.   She is released from the hospital but Treva is still suffering from the traumatic events of the robbery, including the murder of her boyfriend, Bobby Marks, as she looked on.

The story is complicated but Dennis Palumbo pulls all the pieces together for an exciting and surprise conclusion.  This is the second book in the Daniel Rinaldi series.  I haven’t read Mirror Image, the first book in the series but I do intend to correct that soon.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, December 2011.


Collateral Damage
Matt Royal Series
H. Terrell Griffin
Oceanview Publishing, December 2011
ISBN No. 978-1608090266

This newest addition to the Matt Royal series manages to keep the reader on pins and needles until the very end of the book.  Matt is an attorney living in Longboat Key, Florida.  Matt has pretty much given up the practice of law and is just enjoying a leisurely life.

Jim Desmond, a young groom,  is killed on the beach in Longboat Key the day following his wedding.  On the same day three other murders occur on a local dinner cruise.  Longboat Key detective and close friend of Matt, Jennifer Diane Duncan (J. D.) isn’t coming up with any answers.  The groom was from Atlanta.  One of the victims killed on the dinner cruise was a lawyer from Jacksonville, Peter Garrison.  Another victim was a twenty-five year old woman from Charlotte, North Carolina.  The third victim was the Captain of the dinner cruise.

Matt is puzzled by the deaths but has no reason to become involved until an old buddy from Matt’s years in VietNam  stops by for a visit.  Charles T. Desmond (“Doc”) reveals that the young man killed was his son.  Doc pressures Matt to file a civil case in order to gather evidence that the police can’t access and hopefully find out who killed Jim.  Doc agrees that any evidence that is turned up from the civil action can be turned over to the prosecutors.  Matt finds it difficult to say no to a man that saved his life so he agrees to take on the case.

Logan Hamilton and Jock Algren, Matt’s friends, join Matt  to help with the investigation and the clues keep Matt on the move.  More and more it seems that the deaths are part of some international plot.  Before Matt and his friends can discover what is really going on there are more unexplained deaths and Matt fears for the life of J. D.

This sixth addition to the Matt Royal series is very good.   It is not necessary to read previous Matt Royal novels prior to reading  Collateral Damage but each book in the series reveals more  about Matt Royal and the crew that usually steps up to help him out.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, April 2012.


No Bells
F. M. Meredith
Oak Tree Press/Dark Oak Mysteries, March 2012
ISBN No. 978-1610090865
Trade Paperback

Gordon Butler is a member of the Rocky Bluff Police Department.  Nothing ever seems to go Gordon’s way.   He is single and previously lived with another officer on the force, Doug Milligan.  When Doug married Stacey Wilbur, Gordon moved in with Stacey’s parents.  Where relationships are concerned, Doug always seems to be on the outside looking in at other people’s happiness.  Not so in the latest Rocky Bluff mystery.  Doug finally works up the courage to ask Benay Weiss for a date and she accepts.  Now Gordon and Benay are spending a lot of time together.

Gordon receives an early morning phone call from Benay and she is very upset.  Her best friend Geri Rowe has disappeared.  Geri’s husband Philip called Benay to see if she had any information about Geri.

Gordon’s first case of the day takes him to the scene of a murder.  Some teenagers have found the body of a woman and Gordon immediately thinks of Geri.   The body does turn out to be that of Benay’s best friend.  As the investigation goes forward Gordon’s girlfriend, Benay, becomes the number one suspect.  Gordon knows in his heart that Benay couldn’t be guilty and he makes up his mind that he will find out the identity of the real killer.

Risking his reputation as well as his job, Gordon covers the calls assigned to him during working hours and spends his time off attempting to discover everything he can about Geri, her husband and who might have a motive to end Geri’s life.

There are some humorous sections in the book and updates on other members of the Rocky Bluff residents.  You will have to read the book to know if Gordon’s courageous efforts on Benay’s part bring him the respect and appreciation he deserves.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2012.

Book Review Trio by Patricia E. Reid

The Ridge
Michael Koryta
Little, Brown and Company, June 2011
ISBN No. 978-0316053662

Chief Deputy Kevin Kimble is making an early morning drive when he receives a very strange and disturbing phone call. The call is from Wyatt French one of the stranger residents of Kimble’s county.  Wyatt lives on a hilltop known as Blade Ridge.  Wyatt is famous for his heavy drinking and his residence.  Wyatt lives in a lighthouse that lights up the hills surrounding his home.  Wyatt’s call is to ask just one question of Kimble and  that is if Kimble would rather have a homicide to investigate or a suicide.  Kimble finally responds with the answer of suicide.

Kimble’s early drive is a strange one.  He makes a monthly visit to prison to visit Jacqueline Mathis.  Mathis is serving time for the murder of her husband.  Jacqueline also severely injured Kimble although she claims not to remember that she shot him.  Kimble thinks that his visits are not common knowledge but his telephone conversation with French reveals that French is well aware of these trips.

Audrey Clark is the owner of a big-cat sanctuary and is in the process of moving the animals to her new location on Blade Ridge.  The cats are restless and seem to be dissatisfied with the new sanctuary.

Kimble’s return home after his prison visit finds him faced with the discovery of Wyatt French’s body.  French’s death appears to be a suicide but Kimble keeps going over the statements made by French in his phone call and the strange items revealed in the search of French’s lighthouse home.

Between the investigation of French’s death and the trouble stirring at the cat sanctuary it seems that Blade Ridge is a dangerous place to be. Roy Darmus is a newspaper reporter whose newspaper has just closed down but Roy also becomes interested in French’s death and Blade Ridge.  Kimble and Darmus work together to uncover the mystery that surrounds the Ridge.

Digging into the past finally reveals the history of Blade Ridge and the very real dangers that lurk there – dangers that Wyatt French attempted to fight.

I enjoyed this author’s The Cypress House and So Cold the River. This one is even better than the first two.  The three books are all stand-alones.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2011.


Dead Man’s Switch
Tammy Kaehler
Poisoned Pen Press, 2011
ISBN No. 978-1590588819

Tammy Kaehler’s debut novel Dead Man’s Switch introduces Kate Reilly.  Kate loves racing and although she has had some experience, she is looking for a full-time position with a racing crew.  When she pulls into the track at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut where the American LeMans Series is racing on the 4th of July weekend she pulls into a dead man.  Or maybe a better phrase would be that she pulls over a dead man.

The corpse under Kate’s car turns out to be Wade Becker, a corvette driver for ALMS.  The driver’s death was a shock to everyone but not necessarily counted as a loss since Wade seemed to have a number of enemies in the racing world.

When Kate is offered the position of filling in for Wade, she is thrilled but uncertain how she will be accepted.  She finds that the detective in charge of the investigation is suspicious of Kate since she not only discovered the body but also has taken over Wade’s driving position.

The author takes the readers behind the scenes of racing and puts you behind the wheel with Kate.  Kate is trying to concentrate on her driving as well as attempting to clear her name and prove that she is innocent.

Strong characters and a lot of excitement make this book a great read and you don’t have to be interested in racing to enjoy the book and learn a lot about the sport.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, August 2011.


The Burning Edge
Rick Mofina
Mira, December 2011
ISBN No. 978-0778313014
Mass Market Paperback

“Jennifer, I love you.”  No, this is not a love story.   These four words are the last words spoken by a young FBI agent as he lay dying next to Lisa Palmer, recently widowed, single mother. At the request of the agent, Lisa had tried to reach his gun so that he would have a chance at the robbers but the gun slipped and attracted the attention of one of the robbers who immediately shot the FBI agent and held a gun to Lisa’s head.   Lisa escaped death but didn’t escape the terror of living through the robbery and the fear that the robbers would somehow find her.

Although Lisa has two small children to protect, she does agree to do everything she can to cooperate with the FBI in their search for the criminals. For FBI agent Frank Morrow this case is extremely important.  Morrow is facing his own death sentence and is determined to conclude the case and allow him time to spend with is family before his health problems take their final toll.

Jack Gannon, a reporter for World Press Alliance, is given the assignment and pressured to land an exclusive.  Gannon’s current boss, Dolf Lisker, is nothing like Melody Lane, his former boss, who has taken a one-year leave of absence.  Lisker had never worked the streets or followed a lead and had no patience whatsoever.  Lisker demanded immediate results and had no patience with Gannon who had an anonymous tipster he was attempting to catch up with and obtain further information about the robbery and its purpose.  Gannon feels  that the robbery had been carried out by well-trained men and the purpose of the robbery was more than just a chance to grab some fast money.

The story jumps back and forth from Gannon’s quest for more information, Lisa Palmer’s fears and her determination to keep her family safe and be sure the robbers are captured, and the point of view of the robbers and their reasons for needing a large amount of cash in a short amount of time.

Jack Gannon is a professional and the inside story of how a reporter chases down leads keeps the pages turning rapidly.  If you have not read the previous Jack Gannon novels this fast-paced book will be sure to make you want to read each book in the Gannon series.

Rick Mofina is a former crime reporter and writes from his own experience.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, November 2011.

Book Review: In Desperation by Rick Mofina

In Desperation
Rick Mofina
Mira, 2011
ISBN No. 978-0778329480
Mass Market Paperback

Jack Gannon is working on a story in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.  Jack is a journalist employed by Word Press Alliance.    Jack and Isabel Luna, a crime reporter for El Heralda, a family owned newspaper in Juarez, have just discovered a mother cradling her dead son in her arms.  The boy was only 16 and the third child that Paula Chavez had lost to the drug wars raging in Mexico.

Jack has also lost his family.   His sister, Cora, left home when she was just a teen-ager.  Jack’s parents are deceased.  Prior to their death, they had done everything possible to locate Cora but they were not successful in their search.    Members of a drug cartel had murdered Isabel’s father.  Isabel confided in Jack that she had actually witnessed her father’s death and had seen his murderer.

Meanwhile in Phoenix, Arizona a mother named Cora Martin is terrified.  Her eleven year-old daughter, Tilly, has been kidnapped.  The men who took Cora said that her boss, who was also her boyfriend, Lyle Galviera had stolen money from them.  Lyle owns Quick Draw Courier and had been using his company to launder money for the drug cartel.  The kidnappers’ state that Tilly will not be returned until the money is recovered.  Cora is told if she wants to see her daughter, she must find Lyle and make sure he returns their money.

The kidnappers have left Cora tied up but she was finally able to free herself.  She knows Lyle is out of town on business but when she tries to make contact, she cannot reach him.

Back in Juarez, Jack has just heard from Isabel that a power struggle is about to explode within one of the major cartels and assassins might be used.  Jack assures Isabel that he will be there. However, that promise to Isabel is one that Jack was unable to keep.

When Jack opens his email, he eyes are drawn to a subject line that says “Your sister Cora Needs Your Help Now”.  Jack has not heard from Cora for twenty years but he still cannot turn his back on her.  His next step is to fly to Phoenix to help Cora deal with the kidnappers and attempt to get Tilly back alive.

Jack’s emotions are playing leapfrog as he tries to help Cora.  At times, she is the sister that he had known so many years ago.  Other times he feels that she is a stranger who is holding back details of her life that might have a bearing on the current situation.  The World Press Alliance wants the scoop on the story but Jack is not able to feed them any inside information.  Even the authorities are not open with Jack because of his work as a journalist.

Rick Mofina has written another exciting story that will keep readers holding their breath.  This is the third in the Jack Gannon series.  It is not necessary to read the first two in the series to enjoy this book.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, February 2011.

Book Review: Overkill by Joseph Teller

Joseph Teller
MIRA Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7783-2776-9
Mass Market Paperback

To say that Harrison J. Walker [known to one and all as “Jaywalker”: “he’d dropped the Harrison part as too pretentious and rejected Harry as too Lower East Side”], a member of the New York criminal bar, likes a challenge is a vast understatement.  But when a judge appoints him to defend a teenage boy who has been charged with murder, it would seem too big a challenge even for him.  There are three eyewitnesses who will testify that they saw Jeremy Estrada shoot a boy only a few years older than himself between the eyes at pointblank range, and despite the fact that Jaywalker’s acquittal rate is about 90%, an acquittal in this particular case might be too daunting a task.

Jay’s background is this:  Fifty-two years old, a widower for a dozen years, he has a daughter, had been a DEA agent, and had been suspended from the practice of law about five years previously; now reinstated, he has no law office he can call his own, and no support staff.  But he has promised the boy, his mother and his twin sister that he will do his best, and he will do no less than that.  A self-described “uncompromising obsessive-compulsive” who had ”won cases and lost cases , . .  no one – no one – had ever accused him of not doing his best.”  And it doesn’t hurt that he has the ability to virtually mesmerize a jury.

So he spends most of the ensuing days and nights with little or no food or sleep, completely immerses himself in the case, interviewing all witnesses even when it entails flying to Puerto Rico and back mostly on his own dime.  [By the end of the trial many months later he has been paid a little more than $1200 by Jeremy’s mother.]  If anyone can win this case, dealing as it does with young love [there is a stunningly beautiful young girl involved], teenage bullying so seemingly endemic in our society, questions of intent and self-defense, it is Jaywalker.  A terrific courtroom thriller, laden with suspense and humor in equal measure, this is an exciting and completely satisfying novel, and it is recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, October 2010.

Book Review: The Perfect Couple by Brenda Novak

The Perfect Couple
Brenda Novak
Mira Books
ISBN 0778326675
Mass Market

Tiffany’s got simple instructions from her husband, Colin.  Dump ‘Rover’s’ body.  When she hears sounds and screaming from the trunk, she realizes the boy is alive.  A frantic call to Colin and he tells her to kill the kid and dump him.  Unfortunately for her, the boy manages to get away and she’s terrified Colin will hurt her for it.

Meanwhile, thirteen year old Samantha is sunbathing in her backyard.  She’s got mono and is feeling weak and miserable.  When she hears her next door neighbor Tiffany in distress, Sam goes to the fence to help.

Seeing her opportunity to make up with Colin, Tiffany cons Samantha to come into her house where the girl’s locked into a soundproofed bonus room over the garage.

The Perfect Couple

Sam’s mom, Zoe, is completely distraught when she discovers that her daughter is missing.  She takes her troubles to a friend who runs The Last Stand, a charitable service to help parents in need.  Thus enters Jonathan, a detective who’s got a bad history with picking a woman in love with someone else…

When I saw Brenda Novak’s book available on Vine, I grabbed it without thought and consideration of the difference between the classifications of mystery and romantic suspense. Prior to this, I have read Ms. Novak’s work and thoroughly enjoyed her writing; however, for several reasons, this book is not one I personally enjoyed.

However, Ms. Novak did a superlative job showing us the mind of Colin, seemingly half of a ‘perfect couple’, who is actually a sociopathic abuser of his spouse and children.

Personally, this is a deeper point of view of both an abuser and his victims than I would ever want to take.  “Perfect Couple” did have me turning pages just to read the end, but I would never want to put myself through reading a book like this again. While the abuse was spoken of in the past tense, this is definitely a hard read and not one I would recommend to everyone.

Reviewed by Becky Kyle, January 2010.