Right Behind You (FBI Profiler #7) by Lisa Gardner

right-behind-youGenre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: January 2017

Eight years ago, Sharlah Nash’s older brother beat their drunken father to death to save their lives. Now thirteen, she has found a home with ex-FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his wife, former police officer Rainie Conner. Trust, however, doesn’t come easily. Life has taught the young girl all-too-well of the evil that exists in the world. Still, she can’t help but hope that maybe, just maybe, she’ll finally get a shot at the family she’s never had.

When a shooting at a local convenience store leaves two dead, police identify the killer as Telly Ray Nash. As a manhunt ensues, it becomes evident that the hunted is on a hunt of his own, and his prey is none other than his little sister. With the number of bodies mounting, Sharlah must decide whether to run for her life or confront the brother she hasn’t seen since the day he killed for her.

Right Behind You delivers a gut-wrenching, edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller. Lisa Gardner expertly toys with the readers’ emotions dragging them through the entire feelings spectrum — more than once.

Without a doubt, Gardner’s novels straddle and even push the limits of my intense/dark tolerance level. Yet, her intricate characters and nail-biting suspense bring me back time and time again, and Right Behind You is probably my favorite. The author explores the importance of family and the devastation that can come from the broken relationships within it.

My heart went out to Sharlah immediately. Understandably, her tragic background has left her damaged and wary, but despite that, she has managed to hold on to a sliver of hope. For that matter, out of all the Gardner novels I’ve read, I would say this one had the most “hopeful” ending. That’s not to say the characters won’t have some serious baggage to wade through once all is said and done — and that’s not counting the issues they already had coming into the story.

The author brilliantly utilizes the wilds of Oregon and the various settings for her purposes, effectively isolating the characters and heightening the suspense.

Though Right Behind You is the seventh installment in the FBI Profiler series, the first six aren’t imperative to following the story. Until this one, I hadn’t read a Quincy and Rainie novel, and I didn’t feel lost once. As always, readers should be prepared for mature content and strong language.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Fiction Addict.

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The 4th Man (An FBI Profiler/D.D. Warren Short Story) by Lisa Gardner

the-4th-manGenre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: January 2017

Five years ago, the strangulation of a young woman in the library stairwell rocked a college community. With no physical evidence, no signs of sexual assault, or witnesses, the police had to release the three men who were with her in the building — her boyfriend and two campus security guards.

Ex-FBI profile Pierce Quincy and his wife, former police officer Rainie Conner agree to help D.D. Warren look into the cold case. With only a dead girl and missing shoes to go off of, figuring out if the killer is one of their three suspects or a fourth they haven’t considered will prove to be only the beginning.

Lisa Gardner’s The 4th Man presents a classic locked-room mystery, in which the only thing more surprising than the killer’s identity is the motive. If not for the fact that the author garnered her inspiration from a real-life case, I would have thought the motive unbelievable.

Probably due to its length, this short story didn’t contain the depth found in Gardner’s novels. The characters, even the recurring ones, felt a bit like caricatures. D.D., notorious for her hands-on, dog-with-a-bone approach (the reason we all love her), seemed uncharacteristically detached. In fact, her willingness to simply present the facts to Quincy and Rainie and let them run with it made me wonder if she had actually solved the case and was testing her friends.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed piecing together the mystery and liked The 4th Man even more than last year’s short story, 3 Truths and a Lie. I recommend it to Gardner’s fans.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Fiction Addict.

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Find Her by Lisa Gardner

find-her-lisa-gardnerGenre: Suspense, Thriller
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: February 2016

Flora Dane endured the unthinkable. Kidnapped and held for 472 days, she somehow managed to survive. With the help of her FBI victim advocate, Flora has endeavored to re-enter society. But the shrine in her bedroom suggests she might not be readjusting to society as well as she claims—in fact, she’s haunted by the abducted girls who have never made it home.

D.D. Warren arrives at a crime scene. A would-be abductor is dead, and his captive has become his killer. When D.D. recognizes the woman as Flora, she is startled—this is the fourth time Flora has ended up in a kidnapper’s grasp, though the first time that death has been the result. What are the chances that one woman can be so unlucky as to be kidnapped four times? As a cop, D.D. doesn’t believe in coincidences, which leaves her to wonder whether the young woman is truly a victim or a vigilante who has just escalated to murder.

However, Flora’s past could prove vital to the rescue of the missing college student that has stunned Boston. When the young woman vanishes again, D.D. uncovers a much more sinister plot with a predator at the center who’s determined that this time, Flora Dane won’t make it out alive.

Find Her delivers a hair-rising, spine-tingling thriller. Lisa Gardner’s complex characters, vivid settings, and gripping storytelling hooked me from the start. Twists at every corner played with my mind as Flora’s dark, gut-wrenching tale unfolded.

Few authors can bring a story to life quite like Gardner who had me smelling the greasy fries, experiencing the pangs of cold and hunger, or tasting the bile and fear. This is one novel to read with all the lights on. At times, I even wished for a little less immersion — such as during the final confrontation or as the truth of what Flora endured surfaced.

Due to mature themes and strong language, this novel should stay within its intended audience. I recommend Find Her to Gardner’s fans as well as anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers.

Review copy provided by publisher. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Life is Story.

The First Wife by Erica Spindler

the-first-wifeGenre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: February 2015

Bailey Browne dreams of being swept off her feet by a handsome stranger who will save her from her ordinary life. But everyone knows those are the things of fairy tales, not real life. Then, while on vacation, Logan Abbott appears. Despite their ten-year age difference and opposite backgrounds, they are instantly drawn to each other, and Bailey begins to wonder if Prince Charmings and Knights in Shining Armor really do exist. Before long, she accepts his marriage proposal and moves to his large horse farm in Louisiana.

But not all that glitters is gold, and soon Bailey’s visions of happily ever after start to crumble. A tragic family past, a missing first wife, and rumors of women disappearing from the area all point toward her husband and the possibility that he’s not the man she thought he was. When yet another woman vanishes, Bailey is forced to choose between listening to the rumors or standing by her husband — a choice that could cost her life.

I absolutely loved Erica Spindler’s Justice For Sara, and couldn’t wait to read her latest book. Unfortunately, The First Wife didn’t live up to the caliber of the previous novel. It was intriguing, but the riveting tension found in the former, lacked from this plot, probably in part due to the fact that its characters felt more like caricatures playing a part than 3D, flesh and bone characters.

Though Bailey is sympathetic in the role of the distraught wife who discovers her new husband’s dark history, her unwavering belief in his innocence comes across more as naivety than loyalty because at the end of the day they are two virtual strangers who married after a whirlwind romance. To be honest, Logan doesn’t give her too many reasons to trust him either.

With plenty of characters with both motive and opportunity to commit the various crimes, I definitely enjoyed piecing together the mystery. While the identity of the killer didn’t come as a shock, Spindler kept me jumping from one suspect to another until the very end, even tossing a few twists along the way. The killer’s motives, however, proved anti-climactic and flimsy at best. After the constant buildup, I definitely expected more.

I did really enjoy the set up of the novel. The book opens in the middle (with Bailey in the hospital for some unknown reason), travels back in time to how everything started, making its way to the present and then continues with Bailey trying to piece together the events that landed her in the hospital and consequently leads her to the killer.

All in all, The First Wife provides an enjoyable read even if it had a lot of untapped potential.

Review copy provided by publisher. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Life is Story.

Flesh and Blood (Kay Scarpetta #22) by Patricia Cornwell

flesh-and-bloodGenre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: November 2014

Dr. Kay Scarpetta’s birthday has arrived, and along with it the day she heads off with her husband for a much deserved vacation. However, before they leave, Kay notices seven pennies on the wall behind their home. Something innocent enough in and of itself if not for the fact that they are all dated 1981 and yet look newly issued. Then her cell phone rings and Detective Pete Marino informs her of a homicide five minutes away. A high school music teacher has been shot while unloading groceries from his vehicle, but no one has heard or seen anything.

The case only takes one unnerving turn after another when Kay discovers that the victim is someone from her past. When it becomes evident that the murder is the handiwork of a serial sniper who leaves nothing behind except pieces of copper, Scarpetta must follow the leads across state lines from New Jersey, to Massachusetts, and even the Florida coast. Along the way, Scarpetta discovers startling evidence that incriminates her own niece, Lucy.

Patricia Cornwell’s Flesh and Blood left me with conflicted feelings. The novel offers an edge-of-the-seat read from beginning to end that kept me hooked. However, for someone who’s big on right and wrong and justice, Kay Scarpetta’s own moral compass is pretty skewed. The woman had an opinion about everyone’s actions — the sleazy insurance investigator, the not-so-innocent victim, the serial sniper, even about the disgruntled Detective Marino — while seeming to forget that she had her own issues. Among other things, Scarpetta is married to a guy with whom she started an affair while he was still married to another woman. Kay often crossed the line between self-confidence and arrogance.

Also, for being a medical examiner, she barely set foot in the lab, spending almost the entirety of her time out and about hunting for clues, playing more the part of a detective. I would have preferred watching Scarpetta do her job, which is what sets apart this series from other crime stories and the main reason I picked it up in the first place.

Putting all this aside, the mystery itself proved fascinating to follow and kept me flipping pages as I attempted to solve the case alongside the protagonist. If one can ignore the fact that Benton Wesley (Kay’s FBI husband) is the kind of man who would cheat on his wife, he actually comes across as more likeable than Scarpetta. He also seemed more level headed than the rest of the characters, most of whom lead with their emotions.

The ending came like a jolt. After a steady, nail-biting build up, the conclusion came with a whiplashing halt that leaves the reader wondering if several chapters are missing. It’s only redemption comes in the form of a shocking cliffhanger, that despite everything has left me eagerly awaiting the next installment.

Flesh and Blood is the 22nd  novel featuring the forensic examiner. However, it easily stands alone. Though I had never read a Scarpetta book prior to this one and despite several recurring characters showing up, I had no problem following the story line.

Review copy provided by publisher. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Life is Story.