Book Review: Twentymile by C. Matthew Smith @cmattwrite @LatahBooks @partnersincr1me

Twentymile by C. Matthew Smith Banner

Twentymile

by C. Matthew Smith

November 15 – December 10, 2021 Tour

Book Details:
Genre: Procedural, Thriller
Published by: Latah Books
Publication Date: November 19, 2021
Number of Pages: 325
ISBN: 978-1-7360127-6-5

Goodreads

Purchase Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Latah Books

************

Synopsis

Twentymile by C. Matthew Smith

When wildlife biologist Alex Lowe is found dead inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it looks on the surface like a suicide. But Tsula Walker, Special Agent with the National Park Service’s Investigative Services Branch and a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, isn’t so sure.

Tsula’s investigation will lead her deep into the park and face-to-face with a group of lethal men on a mission to reclaim a historic homestead. The encounter will irretrievably alter the lives of all involved and leave Tsula fighting for survival – not only from those who would do her harm, but from a looming winter storm that could prove just as deadly.

A finely crafted literary thriller, Twentymile delivers a propulsive story of long-held grievances, new hopes, and the contentious history of the land at its heart.

Praise for Twentymile:

“[A] striking debut . . . a highly enjoyable read suited best to those who like their thrillers to simmer for awhile before erupting in a blizzard of action and unpredictability . . .” Kashif Hussain, Best Thriller Books.

“C. Matthew Smith’s original, intelligent novel delivers unforgettable characters and an irresistible, page-turning pace while grappling with deeply fascinating issues of land and heritage and what and who is native…. Twentymile is an accomplished first novel from a talented and fully-formed writer.” James A. McLaughlin, Edgar Award-winning author of Bearskin

Twentymile is packed with everything I love: A strong, female character; a wilderness setting; gripping storytelling; masterful writing. Smith captures powerfully and deeply the effects of the past and what we do to one another and ourselves for the sake of ownership and possession, for what we wrongfully and rightfully believe is ours. I loved every word. A beautiful and brutal and extraordinary debut.” Diane Les Becquets, bestselling author of Breaking Wild and The Last Woman in the Forest

My Review

When I was ten years old, my family went on our first tent camping trip for our summer vacation, the first of many such trips over the coming years. The Great Smoky Mountains, specifically Balsam Mountain Campground not far from the small village of Cherokee, was our destination that summer and several more and I quickly came to love the area, the wonderful things to see and do, hiking small sections of the Appalachian Trail, and especially the history, highlighted by the outdoor play, “Unto These Hills”. That play was my initial experience with outdoor theater and, all these years later, I still remember it well; I knew the story of the Cherokee Nation but the play really made me understand. Growing up, I also camped in that setting as a Girl Scout, both trooper and leader and, to this day, it’s my favorite part of the Blue Ridge.

It’s that memory and love of the Smokies that made me take immediate interest in the description of Twentymile and I’m so very glad I decided to read it. I was quickly absorbed by the characters, good and bad, and the story behind the belligerence and vicious nature of Harlan and his family. They reminded me of the movie “Deliverance” and the reality of today’s anti-government survivalists but I also had a certain compassion for their belief that their land had been stolen—the same thing happened in my home state, Virginia and, while these families were given compensation, nothing truly makes up for it.

Tsula is a remarkable woman and everything about her rings true in her search for the truth in Alex’s murder. She’s a law enforcement officer I’d like to see much more of and, while I think there were some flaws in this book, I’ll gladly read more if this becomes a series.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2021.

************

Read an excerpt

HARLAN

CHAPTER ONE

May 10
The same moment the hiker comes upon them, rounding the bend in the trail, Harlan knows the man will die. He takes no pleasure in the thought. So far as Harlan is aware, he has never met the man and has no quarrel with him. This stranger is simply an unexpected contingency. A loose thread that, once noticed, requires snipping. Harlan knows, too, it’s his own fault. He shouldn’t have stopped. He should have pressed the group forward, off the trail and into the concealing drapery of the forest. That, after all, is the plan they’ve followed each time: Keep moving. Disappear. But the first sliver of morning light had crested the ridge and caught Harlan’s eye just so, and without even thinking, he’d paused to watch it filter through the high trees. Giddy with promise, he’d imagined he saw their new future dawning in that distance as well, tethered to the rising sun. Cardinals he couldn’t yet spot were waking to greet the day, and a breeze picked up overhead, soughing through shadowy crowns of birch and oak. He’d turned and watched the silhouettes of his companions taking shape. His sons, Otto and Joseph, standing within arm’s length. The man they all call Junior lingering just behind them. The stranger’s headlamp sliced through this reverie, bright and sudden as an oncoming train, freezing Harlan where he stood. In all the times they’ve previously made this journey—always departing this trail at this spot, and always at this early hour—they’ve never encountered another person. Given last night’s thunderstorm and the threat of more to come, Harlan wasn’t planning on company this morning, either. He clamps his lips tight and flicks his eyes toward his sons—be still, be quiet. Junior clears his throat softly. “Mornin’,” the stranger says when he’s close. The accent is local—born, like Harlan’s own, of the surrounding North Carolina mountains—and his tone carries a hint of polite confusion. The beam of his headlamp darts from man to man, as though uncertain of who or what most merits its attention, before settling finally on Junior’s pack. The backpack is a hand-stitched canvas behemoth many times the size of those sold by local outfitters and online retailers. Harlan designed the mammoth vessel himself to accommodate the many necessities of life in the wilderness. Dry goods. Seeds for planting. Tools for construction and farming. Long guns and ammunition. It’s functional but unsightly, like the bulbous shell of some strange insect. Harlan and his sons carry similar packs, each man bearing as much weight as he can manage. But it’s likely the rifle barrel peeking out of Junior’s that has now caught the stranger’s interest. Harlan can tell he’s an experienced hiker, familiar with the national park where they now stand. Few people know of this trail. Fewer still would attempt it at this hour. Each of his thick-knuckled hands holds a trekking pole, and he moves with a sure and graceful gait even in the relative dark. He will recognize—probably is just now in the process of recognizing—that something is not right with the four of them. Something he may be tempted to report. Something he might recall later if asked. Harlan nods at the man but says nothing. He removes his pack and kneels as though to re-tie his laces. The hiker, receiving no reply, fills the silence. “How’re y’all do—” When Harlan stands again, he works quickly, covering the stranger’s mouth with his free hand and thrusting his blade just below the sternum. A whimper escapes through his clamped fingers but dies quickly. The body arches, then goes limp. One arm reaches out toward him but only brushes his shoulder and falls away. Junior approaches from behind and lowers the man onto his back. Even the birds are silent. Joseph steps to his father’s side and offers him a cloth. Harlan smiles. His youngest son is a carbon copy of himself at eighteen. The wordless, intent glares. The muscles tensed and explosive, like coiled springs straining at a latch. Joseph eyes the man on the ground as though daring him to rise and fight. Harlan removes the stranger’s headlamp and shines the beam in the man’s face. A buzz-cut of silver hair blanches in this wash of light. His pupils, wide as coins, do not react. Blood paints his lips and pools on the mud beneath him, smelling of copper. “I’m sorry, friend,” Harlan says, though he doubts the man can hear him. “It’s just, you weren’t supposed to be here.” He yanks the knife free from the man’s distended belly and cleans it with the cloth. From behind him comes Otto’s fretful voice. “Jesus, Pop.” Harlan’s eldest more resembles the men on his late wife’s side. Long-limbed and dour. Quiet and amenable, but anxious. When Harlan turns, Otto is pacing along a tight stretch of the trail with his hands clamped to the sides of his head. His natural state. “Shut up and help me,” Harlan says. “Both of you.” He instructs his sons to carry the man two hundred paces into the woods and deposit him behind a wide tree. Far enough away, Harlan hopes, that the body will not be seen or smelled from the trail any time soon. “Wear your gloves,” he tells them, re-sheathing the knife at his hip. “And don’t let him drag.” As Otto and Joseph bear the man away, Harlan pockets the lamp and turns to Junior. “I know, I know,” he says, shaking his head. “Don’t look at me like that.” “Like what?” Harlan sweeps his boot back and forth along the muddy trail to smooth over the odd bunching of footprints and to cover the scrim of blood with earth. He’s surprised to find his stomach has gone sour. “No witnesses,” he says. “That’s how it has to be.” “People go missing,” Junior says, “and other people come looking.” “By the time they do, we’ll be long gone.” Junior shrugs and points. “Dibs on his walking sticks.” Harlan stops sweeping. “What?” “Sometimes my knees hurt.” “Fine,” Harlan says. “But let’s get this straight. Dibs is not how we’re going to operate when we get there.” Junior blinks and looks at him. “Dibs is how everything operates.” Minutes later, Otto and Joseph return from their task, their chests heaving and their faces slick. Otto gives his younger brother a wary look, then approaches Harlan alone. When he speaks, he keeps his voice low. “Pop—” “Was he still breathing when you left him?” Otto trains his eyes on his own feet, a drop of sweat dangling from the tip of his nose. “Was he?” Otto shakes his head. He hesitates for a moment longer, then asks, “Maybe we should go, Pop? Before someone else comes along?” Harlan pats his son’s hunched neck. “You’re right, of course.” The four grunt and sway as they re-shoulder their packs. Wooden edges and sharp points dig into Harlan’s back and buttocks through the canvas, and the straps strain against his burning shoulders. But he welcomes this discomfort for what it means. This, at last, is their final trip. This time, they’re leaving for good. They fan out along the edge of the trail, the ground sopping under their boots. Droplets rain down, shaken free from the canopy by a gust of wind, and Harlan turns his face up to feel the cool prickle on his skin. Then he nods to his companions, wipes the water from his eyes, and steps into the rustling thicket. The others follow after him, marching as quickly as their burdens allow. Melting into the trees and the undergrowth.

PART I:

DRIFT

TSULA

CHAPTER TWO

October 26
By the time the two vehicles she’s expecting appear at the far end of the service road, Tsula is already glazed with a slurry of sweat and south Florida sand so fine it should really be called dust. She hasn’t exerted herself in the slightest—she parked, got out of her vehicle, waited for the others to arrive—but already she longs for a shower. She wipes her brow with an equally damp forearm. It accomplishes little. “Christ almighty.” Tsula grew up in the Qualla Boundary—the eighty square miles of western North Carolina held by the federal government in trust for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians—and had returned to her childhood home two years ago after a prolonged absence. This time of year in the Qualla, the mornings are chilly and the days temperate, autumn having officially shooed summer out of the mountains. In northern Wyoming, where she’d spent nearly two decades of her adult life, it takes until mid-morning in late October for the frost to fully melt. Tsula understands those rhythms—putting on layers and shedding them, freezing and thawing. The natural balance of it. But only miles from where she stands, in this same ceaseless heat, lies the Miami-Dade County sprawl. It baffles her. Who but reptiles could live in this swelter? Tsula raises her binoculars. A generic government-issued SUV, much like her own, leads the way. An Everglades National Park law enforcement cruiser follows close behind. She looks down at her watch: 11:45 a.m. Tsula flaps the front of her vented fishing shirt to move air against her skin. The material is thin, breathable, and light tan, but islets of brown have formed where the shirt clings to perspiration on her shoulders and chest. She removes her baseball cap, fans her face, and lifts her ponytail off her neck. In this sun, her black hair absorbs the heat like the hood of a car, and she would not at all be surprised to find it has burned her skin. For a moment, she wishes it would go ahead and gray. Surely that would be more comfortable. The vehicles pull to a stop next to her, and two men exit. Fish and Wildlife Commission Investigator Matt Healey approaches first. He is fifty-something, with the tanned and craggy face of someone who has spent decades outside. Tsula shakes his hand and smiles. “Special Agent,” he says, scratching at his beard with his free hand. The other man is younger—in his late twenties, Tsula figures—and dressed in the standard green-and-gray uniform of a law enforcement park ranger. He moves with a bounding and confident carriage and thrusts out his hand. “Special Agent, I’m Ranger Tim Stubbs. Welcome to Everglades. I was asked to join y’all today, but I’m afraid they didn’t give me much other info. Can someone tell me what I’m in for?” “Poachers,” Healey answers. “You’re here to help us nab some.” “We investigate poaching every year,” Stubbs says, nodding toward Tsula. “Never get the involvement of the FBI.” “ISB,” she corrects him. “Investigative Services Branch? I’m with the Park Service.” “Never heard of it,” Stubbs says. “I get that a lot.” Whether he knows it or not, Stubbs has a point. The ISB rarely, if ever, involves itself in poaching cases. Most large parks like Everglades have their own law enforcement rangers capable of looking into those of the garden variety. Federal and state fish and wildlife agencies can augment their efforts where necessary. At just over thirty Special Agents nationwide, and with eighty-five million acres of national park land under their jurisdiction from Hawaii to the U.S. Virgin Islands, this little-known division of the Park Service is too thinly staffed to look into such matters when there are suspicious deaths, missing persons, and sexual assaults to investigate. But this case is different. “It’s not just what they’re taking,” Healy says. “It’s how much they’re taking. Thousands of green and loggerhead turtle eggs, gone. Whole nests cleaned out at different points along Cape Sable all summer long. Always at night so cameras don’t capture them clearly, always different locations. They’re a moving target.” “We’ve been concerned for a while now that they may be getting some assistance spotting the nests from inside the park,” Tsula adds. “So, we’re keeping it pretty close to the vest. That’s why no one filled you in before now. We don’t want to risk any tip-offs.” “What would anyone want with that many eggs?” “Black market,” Healey says. “You’re kidding.” Healey shakes his head. “Sea turtle eggs go down to Central America where they’re eaten as an aphrodisiac. Fetch three to five bucks apiece for the guy stateside who collects them. Bear paws and gallbladders go over to Asia. All kinds of other weird shit I won’t mention. And, of course, there are the live exotics coming into the country. Billions of dollars a year in illegal animal trade going all over the world. One of the biggest criminal industries besides drugs, weapons, and human trafficking. This many eggs missing—it’s like bricks of weed or cocaine in a wheel well. This isn’t some guy adding to his reptile collection or teenagers stealing eggs on a dare. This is commerce.” Tsula recognizes the speech. It’s how Healey had hooked her, and how she in turn argued her boss into sanctioning her involvement. “Sure, most poaching is small-potatoes,” he told her months ago. He’d invited her for a drink that turned out to be a pitch instead. “Hicks shooting a deer off-season on government land and similar nonsense. This isn’t that. You catch the right guys, and they tell you who they’re selling to, maybe you can follow the trail. Can you imagine taking down an international protected species enterprise? Talk about putting the ISB on the map.” “So maybe that’s what’s in it for me,” Tsula said, peeling at the label on her bottle. “Why are you so fired up?” He straightened himself on his stool and drew his shoulders back. “These species are having a hard enough time as it is. Throw sustained poaching on top, it’s going to be devastating. I want it stopped. Not just the low-level guys, either. We put a few of them in jail, there will always be more of them to take their place. I want the head lopped off.” Tsula had felt a thrill at Healey’s blunt passion and the prospect of an operation with international criminal implications. Certainly, it would be a welcome break from the child molestation and homicide cases that ate up her days and her soul, bit by bit. It took three conversations with the ISB Atlantic Region’s Assistant Special Agent in Charge, but eventually he agreed. “This better be worth it,” he told her finally. “Bring some people in, get them to tell us who they’re working for. We may have to let the FBI in after that, but you will have tipped the first domino.” Their investigation had consumed hundreds of man-hours across three agencies but yielded little concrete progress for the first several months. Then a couple weeks ago, Healey received a call from the Broward County State Attorney’s office. A pet store owner under arrest for a third cocaine possession charge was offering up information on turtle egg poachers targeting Everglades in a bid for a favorable plea deal. Two men had recently approached the store owner, who went by the nickname Bucky, about purchasing a small cache of eggs they still had on hand. It was toward the end of the season, and the recent yields were much smaller than their mid-summer hauls. Since many of the eggs they’d gathered were approaching time to hatch, the buyers with whom the two men primarily did business were no longer interested. The two men were looking for a legally flexible pet store owner who might want to sell hatchlings out the back door of his shop. Tsula decided to use Bucky as bait. At her direction, he would offer to purchase the remaining eggs but refuse to conduct the sale at his store. The strip mall along the highway, he would explain, was too heavily trafficked for questionable transactions. But he knew a quiet place in the pine rocklands near the eastern border of the park where he liked to snort up and make plans for his business. They could meet there. “Do I really have to say the part about snorting up?” Bucky had asked her, scratching his fingernails nervously on the interrogation room table. “I really don’t want that on tape. My parents are still alive.” “You think they don’t know already?” Tsula said. “You don’t like my plan, good luck with your charges and your public defender here. How much time do you figure a third offense gets you?” At his lawyer’s urging, Bucky finally agreed. The plan was set in motion, with the operation to take place today. “So how are we looking?” Healey asks. “Bucky’s on his way,” Tsula says. “I met with him earlier for a final run-through, got him mic’d up. We’re going to move the vehicles behind the thicket over there and wait. I’ve scouted it out. We’ll be concealed from the road. The purchase will take place about 12:30. As soon as Bucky has the eggs, we make our move.” “I’ll secure the eggs,” Healy says. “You guys reel in some assholes.” Tsula looks at Stubbs. His jaw is clenched, his eyes suddenly electric. “I’ll ride with you when it’s time, if that’s alright,” she says. “Keep it simple.” They move their vehicles behind the wall of climbing fern and ladies’ tresses. Tsula exits her SUV, takes a concealed vantage point behind the brush, and raises her binoculars. To her left, a breeze has picked up and is swaying the distant sawgrass. A golden eagle circles effortlessly on a thermal, its attention trained on something below. Directly beyond the thicket where she stands, a large expanse of grass spreads out for a quarter mile before giving way to a dense stand of pine trees. To her right, that same open field stretches perhaps two miles, bordered by the service road on which Healy and Stubbs had just come in. All is silent but the soft hum of the breeze. Bucky’s rust-colored compact bounces up the road around 12:15 and disappears as it passes on the opposite side the thicket. Minutes later, a mud-flecked pickup on oversized tires proceeds the same direction up the road, dragging a dust plume like a thundercloud behind it. Tsula turns, nods to Healey, and climbs quietly into Stubbs’s cruiser. She inserts her earpiece and settles into the seat. Stubbs looks over at her expectantly, his hand hovering over the ignition. Tsula shakes her head. “Not yet.” *** Excerpt from Twentymile by C. Matthew Smith. Copyright 2021 by C. Matthew Smith. Reproduced with permission from C. Matthew Smith. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio

C. Matthew Smith

C. Matthew Smith is an attorney and writer whose short stories have appeared in and are forthcoming from numerous outlets, including Mystery Tribune, Mystery Weekly, Close to the Bone, and Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir Vol. 3 (Down & Out Books). He’s a member of Sisters in Crime and the Atlanta Writers Club.

Catch Up With C. Matthew Smith:
www.cmattsmithwrites.com
Twitter – @cmattwrite
Facebook

************

Tour Participants

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews,
interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
https://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=303247  

************

Join In to WIN

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for C. Matthew Smith. There will be TWO winners. ONE (1) winner will receive (1) $25 Amazon.com Gift Card and ONE (1) winner will receive one (1) signed physical copy of Twentymile by C. Matthew Smith. The giveaway runs November 15 through December 12, 2021. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

************

Get More Great Reads at
Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Book Review: All Fall Down by M.J. Arlidge @mjarlidge @orionbooks

All Fall Down
A Helen Grace Thriller #9
M.J. Arlidge
Orion Fiction, June 2021
ISBN 978-1-4091-8842-1 (CA)
Paperback
Orion, June 2020
ISBN 978-1409188407 (US)
Hardcover

I’ve been a fan of this author since 2014 when Eeny Meeny, the first in this bestselling British series featuring Detective Inspector Helen Grace, was published.

All Fall Down, the 9th entry in the series set in the coastal town of Southampton, has been described as Chilling, Mesmerizing and Gripping, descriptions I’m hard pressed to disagree with.

Eight years ago a group of five teenagers from a local high-school, taking part in a Duke of Edinburgh challenge, were tortured physically and mentally by Daniel King, a man who held them captive in an isolated house.  Four of them escaped but the fifth was murdered by King, who set fire to his house and fled.  He was never found or brought to justice.

Now, after receiving a frightening phone call telling him he has one hour left to live, Justin Lanning, one of the four survivors of that torturous ordeal, is found murdered. It isn’t long before D.I. Grace and her squad of detectives start to wonder if King is back and his plans are to kill the remaining survivors.

As the Police try to warn the other survivors, the perpetrator appears to be one step ahead.  D.I. Grace’s frustrations grow as her superiors, pushing for a quick result, question her decisions.  The killer continues to challenge the detectives, one of whom has become Helen’s lover.  He’s ambitious and reckless and Helen begins to wonder if she’s made an error in judgement. This baffling case however is her priority.  But will she figure out the truth before more lives are lost?

D.I. Grace is a strong woman you quickly come to admire.  She’s multi-faceted, something of a loner, who would like nothing better that to have a solid relationship, a man in her life.  Over the previous books she’s had her share of self-doubt, and recriminations, but she’s fought hard to be where she is and I look forward to spending time with D.I. Grace and her team with each new novel.

Next up for D.I. Grace is Truth or Dare.   I can’t wait!

Respectfully submitted,

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, August 2021.

Book Review: The Girl from Silent Lake by Leslie Wolfe @LWNovels @bookouture @SDSXXTours

************
The Girl From Silent Lake
Detective Kay Sharp Book 1
by Leslie Wolfe
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
*
Wow!!!! It simply took my breath away so much that I
finished this book in one go! Literally took my breath away!
I simply couldn’t put the book down. Unputdownable.”
Tropical Girl Reads Books, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
************
The Girl from Silent Lake
Detective Kay Sharp Book 1
Leslie Wolfe
Bookouture, February 2021
ISBN 978-1-83888-985-2
Trade Paperback
*
From the publisher—
*
Her daughter, with emerald eyes and the sweetest smile, is everything to her. Her whole world. “Mommy,” the little girl says, touching her mother’s face with trembling fingers before she’s torn away. “Don’t cry.” Will she ever see her again?
*
When single mother Alison Nolan sets off with her six-year-old daughter, Hazel, she can’t wait to spend precious time with her girl. A vacation in Silent Lake, where snow-topped mountains are surrounded by the colors of fall, is just what they need. But hours later, Alison and Hazel vanish into thin air.
*
Detective Kay Sharp rushes to the scene. The only evidence that they were ever there is an abandoned rental car with a suitcase in the back, gummy bears in the open glove compartment and a teddy bear on the floor.
*
Kay’s mind spins. A week before, the body of another woman from out of town was found wrapped in a blanket, her hair braided and tied with feathers. Instinct tells her that the cases are connected––and it won’t be long until more innocent lives are lost.
*
As Kay leads a frenzied search, time is against her, but she vows that Alison and little Hazel will be found alive. She works around the clock, even though the small town is up in arms, saying she’s asking too many questions. Then she uncovers a vital clue – a photograph of the blanket that the first victim was buried in.
*
Just when Kay thinks she’s found the missing piece, she realises she’s being watched. Is she getting too close, or is her own past catching up with her?
*
With a little girl’s life on the line, Kay will stop at nothing. But will it be enough to get inside the mind of the most twisted killer she has ever encountered, or will another blameless child be taken?
*
A totally gripping and utterly pulse-pounding crime thriller series for readers who love Lisa Regan, Robert Dugoni and Kendra Elliot. This twist-packed page-turner gives “unputdownable” a whole new meaning!
*
There’s a certain predictability in The Girl from Silent Lake because the essential elements are much like so many police procedurals—unattached woman detective returns to the place where she has a troubled past, small town atmosphere, a dead body, missing women and children, has an expertise that can help the local police, kickass attitude, covering a secret, etc., etc. This sense of familiarity is not necessarily a bad thing, though, because there’s comfort to be found in that very familiarity and deep surprises are not always needed or wanted by the reader. In this case, I appreciated knowing pretty much how things were going to play out because it’s the story I was looking for at this time.
*
One thing I never could get a handle on was why an accomplished forensic FBI agent would leave her job, even temporarily, to housesit for her incarcerated brother. He’s onlly in for six months, for heaven’s sake, and it would/should be easy to find someone local to occasionally check on the house. In fact, I imagine the local cops would be willing to help out a fellow law officer so that reason for Kay’s return to the place she swore never to return to doesn’t hold water. Still, once I put that aside, the tale became quite enjoyable with an engaging troop of characters and a tension-filled investigation. This is a promising beginning to what will probably be a very good series.
*
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2021.
************

Goodreads * Barnes & Noble * Amazon

************

About the Author

Leslie Wolfe is a bestselling author whose novels break the mold of traditional thrillers. She creates unforgettable, brilliant, strong women heroes who deliver fast-paced, satisfying suspense, backed up by extensive background research in technology and psychology.
*
Leslie released the first novel, Executive, in October 2011. It was very well received, including inquiries from Hollywood. Since then, Leslie published numerous novels and enjoyed growing success and recognition in the marketplace. Among Leslie’s most notable works, The Watson Girl (2017) was recognized for offering a unique insight into the mind of a serial killer and a rarely seen first person account of his actions, in a dramatic and intense procedural thriller.
*
A complete list of Leslie’s titles is available at https://lesliewolfe.com/books/.
*
Leslie enjoys engaging with readers every day and would love to hear from you.
*
*
************

Giveaway

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

$50 Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

************

Book Review: The Breaker by Nick Petrie @_NickPetrie_ @PutnamBooks

The Breaker
A Peter Ash Novel #6
Nick Petrie
G. P. Putman’s Sons, January 2021
ISBN 978-0-525-53547-8
Hard Cover

Peter Ash is back living with his girlfriend June in the Milwaukee area.  After his previous adventure in Iceland, (The Wild One)  he’s  considered a wanted man and he and June his girlfriend are trying to stay under the radar. Together with his best friend Lewis, they are heading to an outdoor market when Peter notices a suspicious man walking through the market.  When Peter glimpses a gun under the man’s jacket, he’s sure this guy is up to no good, a definite threat to the people in attendance but events don’t unfold as expected when the man corners and confronts one person.

Peter attempts to intervene, but after a brief altercation both the attacker and his potential victim escape; one on an electric bike the other on foot, leaving Peter and Lewis to wonder what really went down.  Lewis finds a pair of sunglasses and not wanting to be questioned by the Police, who were summoned to the market, they both slip away.

This is the beginning of what turns into a rather complex and bizarre plot, involving a tech thief, a paid assassin, an inventor out for revenge, and a paranoid man who is a danger not just to the local community but to the entire country.

The next day June, believing she knows the man the attacker confronted, decides to see if she can uncover his identity.  As a journalist meantime working on a book, she’s also snagged a desk at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and heads to the office on her bicycle.  When she is sideswiped by a pickup truck, and the driver seems intent on giving her a ride, she senses the encounter wasn’t accidental and deftly makes her escape.

Meanwhile as Peter and Lewis attempt to find the owner of the sunglasses they are met with polite but steady resistance at every turn, a sure sign that something is afoot.

They aren’t wrong….

Peter Ash is a character not unlike Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.  They were both in the Army, both strong silent types, both willing and more than able to jump in and help someone in trouble or in need.  And they seem to rise to the occasion whenever they meet a dangerous and deadly adversary.

Since the author’s first outing, The Drifter, I’ve been waiting and watching for each new novel.  While the plots and action are at times a little over the top, that is part and parcel of the fun and excitement each of his novels generate. Peter is always on the side of the underdog, the oppressed, and even with problems of his own, he relishes the challenges he faces along the way.

Check him out…. you won’t be disappointed.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, April 2021.

Book Review: Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner @LisaGardnerBks @DuttonBooks

Before She Disappeared
Lisa Gardner
Dutton, January 2021
ISBN 987-1-5247-4504-2
Hard Cover

Lisa Gardner is a prolific writer with an on-going mystery series with Boston Detective D.D. Warren. She’s also written several stand-alones.

Before She Disappeared is a stand-alone and well worth a read. I devoured it in a couple of days.

Frankie Elkin is a recovering alcoholic who spends her days searching for missing people, people the police have given up searching for after months of no new info or clues. Frankie believes not being associated with the police gives her an edge, allowing her to approach family and friends of the missing person, meeting them on a less pressure-filled level, to possibly unearth a snippet of new information that might lead to a breakthrough.

She’s come to Boston, to an area known as Mattapan, the largest Haitian neighbourhood, to meet the aunt and brother of Angelique Lovelie Badeau, a teenager who, after leaving school one Friday afternoon eleven months ago hasn’t been seen since.

Frankie gets a job as a bartender at Stoney’s, a local popular hangout. The job comes with a room above the pub. Eager to get started she makes her way to the apartment where Guerline Violette, Angelique’s aunt and brother lives. After initially meeting some resistance, Guerline agrees to talk to her.

Frankie doesn’t ask for money, she only asks for truthful answers to her questions. Aware she’ll get some push back, she also insists on contacting the Detective in charge of the case. Frankie makes no bones about the fact that she might not find anything, but she begins with Angelique’s High School best friends, Kyra and Marjolie. After talking to the two girls Frankie is sure they know more than they are saying.

As her investigation proceeds, with a possible sighting of Angelique… another teenage girl goes missing raising the stakes. While Frankie steadily makes progress, she is painfully aware that there are forces working against her, who are prepared to do anything to stop her.

Frankie is a strong, brave yet conflicted woman, carrying some painful baggage she’s unwilling to share, which makes it easy to get swept along with her as she fights to uncover the truth.

Like me, you’ll probably read late into the night to the exciting conclusion.

Check it out…. You’ll be glad you did.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, February 2021.

Book Review: Just Get Home by Bridget Foley @HarlequinBooks

************

Title: Just Get Home
Author: Bridget Foley
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: April 13, 2021
Genre: Thriller, Post-Disaster Fiction

************

Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble  // Kobo // iTunes // Amazon
Google // Indiebound // Harlequin
Books-A-Million // Walmart // Target

************

Just Get Home
Bridget Foley
MIRA, April 2021
ISBN 978-0-7783-3159-9
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

When the Big One earthquake hits LA, a single mother and a teen in the foster system are brought together by their circumstances and an act of violence in order to survive the wrecked streets of the city, working together to just get home.

Dessa, a single mom, is enjoying a rare night out when a devastating earthquake strikes. Roads and overpasses crumble, cell towers are out everywhere, and now she must cross the ruined city to get back to her three-year-old daughter, not even knowing whether she’s dead or alive. Danger in the streets escalates, as looting and lawlessness erupts. When she witnesses a moment of violence but isn’t able to intervene, it nearly puts Dessa over the edge.

Fate throws Dessa a curveball when the victim of the crime—a smart-talking 15-year-old foster kid named Beegie—shows up again in the role of savior, linking the pair together. Beegie is a troubled teen with a relentless sense of humor and resilient spirit that enables them both to survive. Both women learn to rely on each other in ways they never imagined possible, to permit vulnerability and embrace the truth of their own lives.

A propulsive page-turner grounded by unforgettable characters and a deep emotional core, JUST GET HOME will strike a chord with mainstream thriller readers for its legitimately heart-pounding action scenes, and with book club audiences looking for weighty, challenging content.

Minutes, days, perhaps weeks after a major earthquake hits, every survivor’s story becomes a journey of one kind or another, a journey to get to a specific place or people. In Just Get home, we meet a teenager and an older woman who agree to help each other. They have nothing in common, really, other than a need to not be alone in this effort. If anything, the two don’t even share a goal; Dessa wants only to get home to her young child while Beegie has no true home and no one who really cares whether she lives or dies.

Dessa and Beegie are brought together randomly by, first, a vicious crime and then by another, circumstances that are not surprising following such a sudden disaster. As we all know, fear and uncertainty evoke the worst kind of behavior as well as acts of kindness and it’s the latter that initially create the bond between two such different women. Watching their connection grow during their struggles is a thing of emotional satisfaction and becomes the heart of Ms. Foley’s compelling tale.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2020.

An Excerpt from Just Get Home

Prologue

Assist the client in gathering possessions.

Beegie saw it written on a sheet Karen had in her folder. An unticked box next to it.

She knew what it meant. Stuff.

But it was the other meaning that soothed her.

The darker meaning. Possessions.

That was the one she worked over and over in her head.

Beegie imagined her case worker holding up a grey little girl, face obscured by black hair and asking, “This one yours?”  Beegie would nod. Yes, that’s my monster. Together they would shove one snarling, demon-filled person after another into the garbage bags they had been given to pack her things. Soon the bags would fill, growing translucent with strain. When they were done, she and Karen would have to push down on the snapping, bloody faces of Beegie’s possessions so they could close the back of the Prius.

But Karen’s box remained unticked. She didn’t get to help collect Beegie’s possessions, real or unreal, because Beegie’s stuff was already on the street when she got home.

Two garbarge bags filled with nothing special. Her advocate standing next to them with her folder and its helpful advice for what to do when a foster gets kicked out of her home.

Nothing special.

Just almost everything Beegie owned in the world.

Almost but not all.

Whatever.

After Karen dropped her off and Barb had shown her “Her New Home” and given her the rundown on “The Way It Works Here,” Beegie unpacked her possessions into a bureau that the girl who’d lived there before her had made empty, but not clean.

The bottoms of the drawers were covered in spilled glitter. Pink and gold. Beegie had pressed the tips of her fingers into the wood to pull it up, making disco balls of her hands.

But she failed to get it all.

Months later, she would find stray squares of this other girl’s glitter on her clothes. They would catch the light, drawing her back to the moment when she’d finally given up on getting the bureau any cleaner and started to unpack the garbage bags.

There had been things missing.

That Beegie had expected.

But what she had not expected was to find two other neatly folded garbage bags. These were the ones she had used to move her stuff from Janelle’s to the Greely’s. She had kept them, even though back then Mrs. Greely was all smiles and Eric seemed nice, and even Rooster would let her pet him.

Beegie had kept the bags because she’d been around long enough to know that sometimes it doesn’t work out.

In fact, most times it doesn’t work out.

And you need a bag to put your stuff in and you don’t want to have to ask the person who doesn’t want you to live with them anymore to give you one.

But when Mrs. Greely had gathered Beegie’s possessions, she had seen those bags and thought that they were important to Beegie. It made sense to her former foster mother that a “garbage girl” would treasure a garbage bag.

This got Beegie thinking about stuff. The problem of it. The need for things to hold your other things. Things to fix your things. Things to make your things play.

And a place to keep it all.

In Beegie’s brain the problem of possessions multiplied, until she imagined it like a landfill. Things to hold things to hold things, all of it covered with flies, seagulls swooping.

Everything she ever owned was trash or one day would be.

Seeing things this way helped. It made her mind less about the things that hadn’t been in the bag… and other things.

Beegie picked at ownership like a scab, working her way around the edges, flaking it off a bit at a time. Ridding herself of the brown crust of caring.

Because if you care about something it has power over you.

Caring can give someone else the ability to control you and the only real way to own yourself was let go.

So she did.

Or she tried.

Some things Beegie couldn’t quite shed. The want of them stuck to her like the glitter. The pain of their loss catching the light on her sleeves, flashing from the hem of her jeans. The want would wait on her body until it attracted her attention and then eluded the grasping edges of her fingers.

Excerpted from Just Get Home by Bridget Foley, Copyright © 2021 by Bridget Foley. Published by MIRA Books.

************

About the Author

Originally from Colorado, Bridget Foley attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and UCLA’s School of Theater, Film & Television. She worked as an actor and screenwriter before becoming a novelist. She now lives a fiercely creative life with her family in Boise, Idaho.

Find the author:

Website // Goodreads // Instagram

************

**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher
via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Book Review: Eden Lost by Andrew Cunningham @arcnovels @GH_Narrator @AnAudiobookworm

************

 

Author: Andrew Cunningham

Narrator: Greg Hernandez

Length: 6 hours 31 minutes

Series: Eden Rising, Book 2

Publisher: Andrew Cunningham

Released: Jan. 15, 2021

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller

Add on Goodreads

Continue reading