Tag: suspense

July 6, 2013

Review: Vengeance in Death by J.D. Robb

Title: Vengeance in Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Publication Date: October 1997
Series: In Death {Book 6}
Source: Owned
Links: GoodReads | Amazon 

My Rating: Four Stars

In a time when technology links the law and the lawless, predators and prey can be one and the same… 

He is an expert with the latest technology … a madman with the mind of a genius and the heart of a killer. He quietly stalks his prey. Then he haunts the police with cryptic riddles about the crimes he is about to commit–always solved moments too late to save his victims’ lives. 

Police lieutenant Eve Dallas found the first victim butchered in his own home. The second lost his life in a vacant luxury apartment. The two men had little in common. Both suffered unspeakable torture before their deaths. And both had ties to an ugly secret of ten years past–a secret shared by none other than Eve’s new husband, Roarke.

I have had my ups and downs recently with the In Death series (maybe it’s because I don’t actually read them in order…) but Robb definitely hit her stride again with Vengeance in Death

The plot is really intricate yet simple (I know…it made sense in my head). Roarke has been harboring a deep secret that he shares only with Summerset, and it comes back to haunt him. When I read this book description, I began to read it immediately. Roarke has been portrayed as the perfect character, strong and unchanging despite his somewhat nefarious background. I couldn’t believe he had a secret he still held from Eve.

The crimes themselves were ghastly (for those of you who have weaker stomachs…like me). If I saw a video version of this book, I wouldn’t be able to handle it…anyway. The extreme violence of these crimes and the psychotic nature of the killer made this book impossible to put down. I loved how EDD couldn’t trace the killer’s calls when he contacted Eve to leave her clues to find the victims. 

I feel this book stands out among the series because it allows Eve and Roarke to grow as characters as well as solving a somewhat-impossible mystery. Both have to adjust a little as this new mystery tears apart their lives unexpectedly. Constantly, I admire how Robb generally focuses the external conflicts against Eve and Roarke instead of constantly pitting them against each other.

Final Thoughts: I love. This book is definitely a reread for me!

Posted July 6, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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June 26, 2013

Review: Betrayal in Death by J.D. Robb

Title: Betrayal in Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Publication Date: March 2001
Series: In Death {Book 12}
Source: Library
Links: GoodReads | Amazon
My Rating: Four Stars
At the luxurious Roarke
Palace Hotel, a maid walks into suite 4602 for the nightly turndown –
and steps into her worst nightmare. A killer leaves her dead, strangled
by a thin silver wire. He’s Sly Yost, a virtuoso of music and murder. A
hit man for the elite. Lieutenant Eve Dallas knows him well. But in this
twisted case, knowing the killer doesn’t help solve the crime. Because
there’s someone else involved. Someone with a more personal motive. And
Eve must face a terrifying possibility – that the real target may, in
fact, be her husband Roarke

I was thinking about this series on my run this morning (I tend to think about random things – it was before I had my coffee), trying to figure out exactly why I can’t resist picking up one of Robb’s science-fiction/romance/suspense novels every time I go to the library. I figured it out (in part) in my third mile – it’s the characters. 

I love returning to Eve’s world for each new mystery because the cast of vibrant characters doesn’t remain the same; they are constantly changing and evolving into new versions of themselves. Like in Betrayal in Death, Roarke suddenly has to deal with not only the possibility that he is the next probable target, but that he might be somehow responsible for the deaths of two of his employees (the second burdens him more than the first). He must learn to step back and realize he can’t control everything (despite Eve’s constant reminders that he must own half the world by now) and let the NYSPD team take over. Eve has to learn to support Roarke in an entirely different manner, for during most of their marriage, he has been strong despite all of their ups and downs.

Betrayal in Death uses internal conflict to force each character out of their shell, especially Peabody and McNab, who face some of their own bumps and bruises along the way. I found the relationship dynamic between the two constantly fascinating. Peabody was a little blind, in my opinion. 

Then there’s the conflict with the FBI, especially Special Agent Jacoby, who strolls into Cop Central like he’s walking into Macy’s. I loved how Robb uses the stereotypical aggressive relationship between the feds and the locals to spice up the manhunt for Sly Yost – Jacoby is so aggressive and manipulative, it’s impossible to even pretend to like him. His partner, Special Agent Karen Stowe, is the good cop out of the two, but even she is hiding her own little secrets. 

I read this book in two days because the tensions and conflicts were so engrossing – everyone was facing some sort of conflict or issue in the novel, but it never felt forced or overdone. Each character had some sort of external struggle as well as an internal one (maybe in relationships or professionally)  that made the pages fly by. And the romance between Roarke and Eve is still strong – I always enjoy how they are a team, no matter what, even if they’re battling it out with each other. 

I want to touch on Yost really quickly (sorry, this is becoming a bit of a long post!). This villain was terrifying. I really enjoy when Robb allows the reader little glimpses into the killer’s mind so we can understand their mindset and motives, and Yost didn’t disappoint. He was cold, methodical, and so incredibly arrogant in his work (I guess that’s what it’s called?) that it stunned even Eve. I love the little narrational transitions into his mind so I can fully understand the evil lurking behind his eyes. It makes the character so much more real to me and adds a lot of tension to the already strong plot.

Final Thoughts: There are some of the In Death series that I could take or leave, but Betrayal in Death offers such a wide scope of narration, plot and conflict that it was impossible to put down.

Posted June 26, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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May 22, 2013

Review: A Tainted Mind by Tamsem Schultz

Title: A Tainted Mind
Author: Tamsen Schultz
Publication Date: April 2013
Source: Provided for review by RABT Book Tours
Links: GoodReadsAmazon
My Rating: Three Stars

OBSESSED with her job as a medical examiner and lead consultant with the FBI, Dr. Vivienne ‘Vivi’ DeMarco is a woman running from her own demons. And finding the remains of a body on the side of a road in rural upstate New York wasn’t part of her plan. FRUSTRATED that the ghosts from his past won’t leave him alone, Ian MacAllister makes for a reluctant Deputy Chief of Police of Windsor, New York. But as more victims are discovered, all women that bear a shocking resemblance to Dr. DeMarco, he knows he’ll need to call on all the skills he learned as an Army Ranger if he wants to keep her safe. DENIED over and over again of the one thing he desires most, a killer may have finally reached his breaking point. The only question that remains is, will he take Vivi and Ian with him?

I’ve read my fair share of romantic suspense. It’s one of my favorite genres, actually! I was excited to receive the opportunity to review A Tainted Mind

I found all of the characters extraordinarily vibrant and engaging, something that is actually quite rare in the books I’ve been reading lately (maybe it’s just the books I’ve been choosing…who knows!). Vivi DeMarco has had one hell of a hard time lately. I found myself easily identifying with her struggles (which are an integral part of the plot, so I’m keeping that part secret!) but I had a little trouble with her many jobs. The woman is a medical examiner, psychologist, professor, and deep into forensics, all at the age of 28. Although I realize she had started college young, this blew my mind and it yanked me out of the story a few times. In Vivi’s defense, however, each and every one of those talents came in handy as she helped Ian solve the case.

I liked Ian. He has a mellow, laid-back personality with some scars visible after a little inspection. In a lot of romantic suspense, I’ve noticed the man has to do – as Schultz puts it – “the macho thing,” but Ian restrains himself. It was a nice, refreshing change. And his dog is named Rooster. Gotta love a guy like that. 

Schultz uses a lot of knowledge about the in-depth workings of a real police investigation, making note throughout the story of the intense footwork and interviews that police all over the world work on, emphasizing the difference between that and CSI:whatever-city. Her focus upon reality was refreshing, but again, the constant references to it yanked me out of the story occasionally. I enjoyed how Schultz brought in different types of investigators, from the student to the federal and there was no battles over jurisdiction. Take that, CSI!

Even though I enjoyed the main characters, the twins were my favorite by far. Both are employed by the government to hack into security systems and find the cracks in the defenses, which helps their own mischievous intellect stay on track. They were absolutely entertaining, providing some much needed comic relief in some of the more tragic pieces of the novel.

A fun book, and one I’d definitely try to read again. I have some mixed emotions about this book, but I feel that the writing was solid, the characters vibrant, and the plot epitomizes what I love about romantic suspense.

Tamsen Schultz

Author Bio

Tamsen Schultz is the author of The Puppeteer and “American Kin” (a short story published in Line Zero Magazine) and is a three-time finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association annual competition. She worked in the field of international conflict resolution and co-founded a non-profit prior to attending law school. Since graduating, she has worked as a corporate attorney and, like most real lawyers, she spends a disproportionate amount of time thinking about what it might be like to do something else. She lives in Northern California in a house full of males including her husband, two sons, a cat, a dog, and a gender-neutral, but well-stocked, wine rack. A Tainted Mind is her second novel and her third, These Sorrows We See, is tentatively scheduled for release in late 2013.

Posted May 22, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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May 15, 2013

Review: Ice Blue by Susan Rae

Title: Ice Blue
Author: Susan Rae
Publication Date: March 2013
Series: deLuca Family, #2
Source: Provided for Review
Links: GoodReadsAmazon
My Rating: Four Stars
When lives are on the line, sometimes the wrong thing is the right thing to do. 

Born into a Chicago cop family, while her brothers get their rush from catching bad guys, paramedic Angela DeLuca gets hers from saving lives. A tough beauty with a heart perhaps too big, she champions the underdog because, as the youngest of six siblings, she often felt like one.

ICE Special Agent Troy Deavers became a cop to prove he wasn’t like his father—a southern politician who brought his family down with greed and corruption. He doesn’t suffer victims well. At first intrigued by Angela’s passion, he soon fears that the fire in Angela’s heart will be her undoing.

What happens when Troy falls in love with the lovely but infuriating Angela, the Chicago paramedic who insists on protecting a young witness and her unborn baby—a witness who could break his case wide open?

You met the DeLuca family in Heartbeats, now come to know them even better in ICE blue.
–Even if you haven’t read Heartbeats, you can still enjoy ICE blue. Each book has it’s own gritty suspense tale and is complete within itself.

The last part of the blurb? True.

I hadn’t met the deLuca family before, but it’s impossible to not fall in love with such an amazing mix of characters. In a world where we are so often faced with stories of troubled familes, half families, families who don’t care, it was a true pleasure to read about a group that would do absolutely anything for each other. The family dinner scene early within the book easily sets the tone for the entire novel.

On to the main characters! I loved Angela for her most predominant trait: stubbornness. She stood up for everyone, from a little puppy (Half-Pint!) to a poor baby abandoned on her doorstep. She was a heroine with some backbone, some strength, and didn’t mind revealing it. 

The first moment we metet Troy, he is affecting a Southern accent and pretending to be a fancy, well-to-do Southerner who is looking to buy a restaurant chain in Chicago. His first scenes made me laugh, but I quickly learned the man covers up a smart mind, quick wit, a one hell of a romantic streak (their first date? ohh wow). 

The chemistry between the two characters was vibrant, alive, and flew off the page. The stress of the plot itself only added to the characters’ relationship, creating a whole new aspect of romance that can only be found in the best of suspense. 

I thought the plot was original and well thought out. Ms. Rae dives into topics that are sore spots for a lot of society, bringing in the entire deLuca family to help solve the case of the abandoned baby and those who left him (no, I’m not giving hints. This is one you’ve gotta read!).

In the end, I burned through this book within days of opening the first page. It was exhilarating, fun, and packed with romance and mystery. I can’t wait to read the first of the series to see how the deLuca family is introduced!

Posted May 15, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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