Never Tell (D.D. Warren #10) by Lisa Gardner

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: February 2019

Police officers respond to a shots-fired call to discover the victim’s pregnant wife standing over the body with the gun. The woman admits to shooting the weapon but denies murdering her husband.

When D.D. Warren arrives on scene, she recognizes the detainee from one of her first cases. Sixteen years earlier, Evie shot and killed her own father in what law enforcement ruled an accident. Once maybe, but twice? As any good cop, D.D. doesn’t believe in coincidences, but her investigation reveals that the case might not be as simple as it appears either.

In true Lisa Gardner style, Never Tell delivers a mind-twisting story that then twists some more. Raw and emotional, this tale runs the reader through the wringer. It is a story of regret, loss, and perseverance.

Only Gardner can make a reader love, hate, and fear the same character all at once. Who does the reader root for when s/he doesn’t know who is the victim and who is the culprit? Does one mourn or feel relief?

While I figured out the who and part of the why, the villain’s motives ran deeper than I realized and thus still provided a surprise ending. I enjoyed watching D.D. and Flora Dane reunite for another case, and Evie proved a fascinating conundrum.

If you’re looking for a story with weak women, this one is not for you. Never Tell follows three forces of nature, their strength, in many ways, stemming from their brokenness. Yet each battles different ghosts and in no way becomes copies of the others. Each woman is unique and possesses her own voice and way of fighting the hand she’s been dealt.

As with every installment in the D.D. Warren series, Never Tell can stand alone. However, to fully understand Flora Dane’s past and her tentative partnership with D.D., one might want to look into Find Her and Look for Me first. I recommend this book to Gardner, D.D., and thriller fans alike. As usual though, it should remain within its intended audience. Strong language and mature content does not make it advisable for young readers.

Review copy provided by publisher. Thanks!

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Romance
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: January 2019

With little more than a name and place to direct her, Thea Reed arrives in Pleasant Valley to look for the mother who left her on the steps of an orphanage years earlier. When her search leads her to a mental asylum, Thea utilizes her skill as a post-mortem photographer to access the place. But her hunt unearths more than she bargained for. It reawakens the ghost of Misty Wayfair, a woman murdered decades earlier who townsfolk claim haunts the area and especially one family in particular.

A century later, Heidi Lane travels to Pleasant Valley, beckoned by a disconcerting letter penned by her dementia-ailing mother. Her search for answers leads Heidi to the ruins of an old asylum and the mysterious tale of the ghost believed to inhabit it.

Storytelling at its best, The Curse of Misty Wayfair delivers a spellbinding tale. An atmospheric and eerie read that haunts the reader long after its conclusion, Jaime Jo Wright seamlessly blends the past and present in a powerful story of identity and discovering it in our Creator.

Creepy without crossing into horror, Wright expertly uses vivid settings and descriptions to pin her audience to the edge of its seat and kick the heart rate up a notch, proving that one does not need to rely on blood and gore to deliver a deliciously suspenseful read.

The protagonists aren’t your typical (whatever that means) heroes. One won’t find a strapping FBI agent, modelesque detective, or brilliant lawyer but rather a gruff, grease-encrusted mechanic and a groundskeeper with tics and twitches. That is what makes them all the more loveable and heroic. They resemble people I know or can imagine encountering.

Wright masterfully created 3D settings that leapt off the page and had me feeling as though I experienced and interacted with the story world. Returning to reality proved jarring to say the least.

Despite only discovering Wright in December, I have already read all her novels. She has firmly planted herself at the top of my favorites list and become an author to emulate. Out of her three books, picking my number one choice would be impossible.

I strongly recommend The Curse of Misty Wayfair to readers who enjoy tales infused with a strong suspenseful element, a speck of romance, and a thread of faith. Now I’m off to re-read her stories because how else am I to make it until her next release in December?

Review copy provided by publisher. Thanks!

If I’m Found (If I Run #2) by Terri Blackstock

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: March 2017

Casey Cox remains on the run accused of a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts still hot on her trail claims to know the truth and wants to help her. But trusting the wrong person could cost Casey her life.

While investigating the real murderers, she comes across something that leads her to a suicidal man and the child he is falsely accused of abusing. Unable to turn her back on the injustice, Casey puts everything on the line to help the man and protect the girl from her true abusers.

Terri Blackstock’s If I’m Found reunites readers with Casey as she struggles to clear her name. I loved the first book, If I Run. Sadly, the second installment in the series didn’t offer anything new. It felt like a repeat, simply with new secondary characters.

In book one, Casey goes on the run, encounters someone in trouble, and risks her life to save her. In book two, we find Casey still on the run, again she encounters people in trouble, and once more she puts everything on the line to help them. Though I know it’s fiction, it felt a bit too implausible. What are the chances that these injustices keep landing in her lap?

The suspense and pace were good. The author brought the setting to life in a that way allowed me to experience the characters’ world for myself. I enjoyed watching Dylan and Casey start joining forces more. All of this made for an entertaining read. I just would have liked a little something more, especially considering the stellar first book.

Newcomers, keep in mind that while the minor threads/mysteries come to a conclusion with each installment, the main story arches throughout the three books in the series.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

Dead Drift (Chesapeake Valor Series #4) by Dani Pettrey

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Publisher: Bethany House Publisher
Publication Date: July 2018

Luke Gallagher vanished without a trace seven years ago. Now he has reappeared, wreaking havoc on Kate Maxwell’s carefully reconstructed life. She never stopped loving or searching for him, but she also never imagined he chose to walk away at his own volition.

For years, Luke has been part of an elite team hunting a terrorist. The search has brought him back to his own backyard and the group of friends he abandoned, including the woman he loved. Though used to working alone, Luke must join forces with Kate and the guys to thwart a deadly biological attack. As Luke and Kate work to unravel the case, they fall into the terrorist’s sights, suddenly at risk of losing more than just their hearts.

The explosive conclusion to Dani Pettrey’s Chesapeake Valor series has arrived. I have been chomping at the bit for Luke’s story ever since book one landed, and let me say, he does not disappoint. Dead Drift delivers everything readers have come to expect from a Pettrey novel, high-octane suspense, adrenaline-pumping action, and of course, a bit of romance to sweeten the deal.

I probably wouldn’t have dealt with Luke’s return as gracefully as Kate did, but he is a persuasive fellow, and I enjoyed watching the couple’s story develop.

Our beloved team pursues two mysteries — the terrorist plot and the killer of Griffin’s (book one’s hero) sister. I enjoyed both, but finally uncovering what happened to Jenna was definitely the highlight. The deceased young woman we never met in life, seemed to become more real and watching justice prevail was reason to rejoice.

Fans of Chesapeake Valor won’t want to miss Dead Drift. Those who are new to the series will probably want to start at the beginning since a lot of details carry over and enhance the understanding of the story.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

Look for Me (D.D. Warren #9) by Lisa Gardner

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: February 2018

Detective D.D. Warren arrives to a devastating scene. Uniformed officers, police cruisers, and yellow tape cordon off the home of a family of five. Four members have been murdered and the fifth — a sixteen-year-old girl — is missing. Unsure whether the teen narrowly escaped with her life or played a role in the tragedy, D.D. hunts for the girl while trying to piece together the family’s final moments. However, the detective isn’t the only one searching for the truth, so is survivor and vigilante Flora Dane. Both women want justice, but each has a different idea of what it looks like.

Look for Me delivers an adrenaline-charged page turner. Lisa Gardner pens a heart-wrenching tale of mistakes, second chances, and survival. Intricate characters pulled me in and had me vacillating between rooting for their escapes or captures. I did strongly suspect the killer’s identity early on, but the author had me second guessing myself a couple times.

Gardner masterfully toys with the reader’s emotions as D.D. and Flora uncover the events that led to the family’s murder. It felt like watching a car zoom straight for a cliff and being unable to stop it. The reader knows from the start that the family dies but desperately wants to find a way to prevent it.

I highly recommend that Look for Me stay within its intended audience as it contains strong language and mature content. Though it is number nine in the D.D. Warren series, it easily stands alone. To understand Flora Dane, you might want to read Find Her first, but it is not imperative to follow this story. Gardner and D.D.’s fans won’t want to miss this latest installment.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Fiction Addict.