Tag: thriller

October 29, 2015

Review | Devoted in Death by J.D. Robb

Review | Devoted in Death by J.D. RobbDevoted in Death by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death, #41
Publisher: Berkley, September 2015
Pages: 374
Format: Hardcover
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Eve Dallas tracks a couple whose passion is fueled by cold brutality in the newest crime thriller from the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Obsession in Death and Festive in Death.
When Lieutenant Eve Dallas examines a body in a downtown Manhattan alleyway, the victim’s injuries are so extensive that she almost misses the clue. Carved into the skin is the shape of a heart—and initials inside reading E and D . . .
Ella-Loo and her boyfriend, Darryl, had been separated while Darryl was a guest of the state of Oklahoma, and now that his sentence has been served they don’t ever intend to part again. Ella-Loo’s got dreams. And Darryl believes there are better ways to achieve your dreams than working for them. So they hit the road, and when their car breaks down in Arkansas, they make plans to take someone else’s. Then things get messy and they wind up killing someone—an experience that stokes a fierce, wild desire in Ella-Loo. A desire for Darryl. And a desire to kill again.
As they cross state lines on their way to New York to find the life they think they deserve, they will leave a trail of evil behind them. But now they’ve landed in the jurisdiction of Lieutenant Dallas and her team at the New York Police and Security Department. And with her husband, Roarke, at her side, she has every intention of hunting them down and giving them what they truly deserve . . .

Romantic love is always portrayed in books and fairy tales as such a beautiful thing. We’re taught for a young age to find our soul mate and live happily every after. Devoted in Death is the story of two such soul mates that find joy in murder. 

Such an unnerving thought. Romance is meant to be one of the highlights of our lives: reading this couple’s path of destruction through futuristic New York is one of the more gruesome books I’ve read in the In Death series. 

Luckily, Robb sticks to her general narrative style – brief, somewhat hard-to-read descriptions of the crimes, interspersed with a quick, banter-style dialogue and the right hints of humor to pull the book from the depths of the two killers.   

I loved the pace: from the introduction, the backstory, and all the way through to present, there was this desperate urge to know what would happen, how it would happen, when it would happen. The story of Darryl and Ella-Loo takes over the narration, so the series’ side plots don’t move forward much, but I’m okay with that. The story was THAT GOOD.

5 Stars

Posted October 29, 2015 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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October 9, 2015

Review | The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Review | The Girl on the Train by Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Riverhead Books, January 2015
Pages: 325
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A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

Rachel takes the same train every day, going in and out of London. Her own life falling apart, she takes to watching the homes on the side of the tracks and creates stories about the people who live there. Her favorites, a couple she’s dubbed Jess and Jason, have what seems the perfect life…well, until she spots something she wasn’t meant to see.

I’m not sure where I got the idea that The Girl on the Train is a knockoff of Gone Girl, but wherever it was, it was wrong. The Girl on the Train is a different entity of its own. Instead of falling directly into the psychological thriller genre, The Girl pulls in elements of romance (and romance gone wrong) and the heroic journey in with the mystery of the missing wife, Megan.

I began to wonder about Rachel’s credibility as a narrator. She was honest and meant well, but her dependence on alcohol made her choices and memory poor. Instead of admitting the truth to her roommate, she pretends everything is fine. Instead of leaving her ex and his new family alone, she can’t help but call when she’s blackout drunk. Rachel’s the girl that breaks your heart, but keeps doing the same thing over and over until it feels like there’s no help for her.

The fascinating thing about Hawkins’ work is that none of the characters, short of Scott/”Jason,” are what they seem. Rachel’s character is the most transparent, but even she can’t explain what she doesn’t remember. 

Without providing too many spoilers, I loved the depth of the female characters. Even Detective Riley, the skeptical subordinate officer assigned to Megan’s missing person file, had a few more layers to her than I expected for a secondary character. Anna, Rachel’s ex’s new wife, was the stability. She did and said as was expected, for one reason: her child. 

It took me a while to get hooked on The Girl, but once I did, there was no going back. M patiently listened to me rave on about this character and that motive when all he really wanted to do was watch baseball. I knew it, but I couldn’t help it. Hawkins’ story was so powerful, so enthralling that I had to know what happened. 

A powerful, beautifully-written story and one that will be a staple on my reread shelf. 

5 Stars

Posted October 9, 2015 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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July 31, 2015

Review | The Hunt for the Red October by Tom Clancy

Review | The Hunt for the Red October by Tom ClancyThe Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
Series: Jack Ryan Universe, #4
Publisher: Berkley Trade, October 1999
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
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Here is the runaway bestseller that launched Tom Clancy's phenomenal career. A military thriller so gripping in its action and so convincing in its accuracy that the author was rumored to have been debriefed by the White House. Its theme: the greatest espionage coup in history. Its story: the chase for a top secret Russian missile sub. Lauded by the Washington Post as "breathlessly exciting." The Hunt for Red October remains a masterpiece of military fiction by one of the world's most popular authors, a man whose shockingly realistic scenarios continue to hold us in thrall.

Somewhere under the Atlantic, a Soviet sub commander has just made a fateful decision. The Red October is heading west. The Americans want her. The Russians want her back. And the most incredible chase in history is on...

This book has always had personal significance for me: it’s the book my dad was reading when I was born. How much he actually read that night, I’m not sure. Every year around my birthday, I glance at the stark red cover in my parents’ bookshelves and think I should really read that. This year I did. 

The depictions of life in 1980s Soviet Union were extraordinary. Many different personalities were created in accordance with birth, rank, and position, yet many remained uninfluenced under it all, despite the facade they presented. The variance of personalities among just the crew of the Red October would have been enough to create a series of fascinating stories. Mixing those with the roles of Americans, British, and the Soviet naval administration created an unforgettable cast of characters. 

Ramius kept me intrigued: for such a man, born and bred to be a true Russian, regularly referred to as the son of an influential man, to feel such a disconnect to his country and beliefs that he made this decision blew me away. I was driven to find out his story: what had happened to push him to such an edge? There’s no denying his cleverness – making such a decision takes a mixture bravery, ingenuity, and a hint of damn-it-all. 

I didn’t find Jack as charismatic as I expected: he was a little too self-effacing, and it didn’t quite fit into the role of the academic-thrust-into-adventure. Instead of adapting, I felt like he was always pulling back and retreating. He did win me over in the last part of Red October, but I still feel a bit ambivalent about him. 

Jonesy, the sonarman for the Dallas, was by far my favorite character. His slightly eccentric personality made me laugh and broke the tension of this incredibly fast-paced book. He can come over for a beer anytime. 

“Looking under the surface” earned a new meaning. Sure, looking for submarines, but the theme goes far beyond that. For Jack Ryan to come to his conclusion, he had to look under the immediate assumption and draw new – surprising – conclusions. The White House had to trust, the men aboard the ships at sea had to trust things they wouldn’t believe otherwise…Clancy pulls together an excellent story forcing not only the characters but the reader to look beyond the obvious.

Settings and plot were so interwoven that you couldn’t have one without the other. Jack’s nerves as he approaches the White House to deliver a briefing, the extraordinary tension that fills the submarines and ships hunting the Red October. For me, the combination of plot and setting created the thrilling adventure that I just couldn’t put down. 

4 Stars

Posted July 31, 2015 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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November 22, 2014

Review | Airport by Arthur Hailey

Title: Airport
Author: Arthur Hailey
Publication Date: 1968
Source & Format: Owned; paperback
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

When a terrifying crisis erupts–stranding a snowbound airport in a blizzard of pressure, passion and peril–the key to life and death rests in the hands of one of four people: a tough troubleshooter, an arrogant pilot, a beautiful stewardess, or a brilliant airport manager. 

Airport was one of my favorites books this month, maybe even this year. It had suspense, thrill, and complex characters that created a deep, fascinating story that drew me in. 

The value of human life has a strong focus in this story – from the captain’s romance to the airline’s passengers to the side plot of Meadowood, Hailey focuses on the importance of life itself. As I read today, I found myself wishing I had read this book while I was in college; Captain Demerest’s perspective on life is just ripe for critical analysis!

Each character offered a perspective on life, ranging from abortion to the elderly, that makes not only the story come alive, but their own personalities. I loved the depth and variation of personalities, their strengths and secrets, that hid in Airport. Mel Bakersfield, the airport manager, alone struggles with issues in every element of his life. His brother Keith, an air traffic controller, is dealing with a past tragedy in his life. There was no shallow character, none left intentionally one-dimensional. 

As much as I enjoyed the narration, there was an element of propaganda in the novel. Hailey’s own background as a pilot shines through in his story – there are moments when he steps completely outside of the novel to give the reader a lesson on aviation, the struggle of pilots, or how planes work. While these were (for the most part) really interesting, I wish they had been incorporated into the story instead of an aside. 

Airport is perfect for aviation fans, suspense lovers, and those who like deep, intense characters and situations. I adored reading this book – this was one of my quickest reads this month!

Posted November 22, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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November 11, 2014

Review | Festive in Death by J.D. Robb

Title: Festive in Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Publication Date: September 2014
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Series: In Death {Book 39}
Source & Format: Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Personal trainer Trey Ziegler was in peak physical condition. If you didn’t count the kitchen knife in his well-toned chest.

Lieutenant Eve Dallas soon discovers a lineup of women who’d been loved and left by the narcissistic gym rat. While Dallas sorts through the list of Ziegler’s enemies, she’s also dealing with her Christmas shopping list—plus the guest list for her and her billionaire husband’s upcoming holiday bash.

Feeling less than festive, Dallas tries to put aside her distaste for the victim and solve the mystery of his death. There are just a few investigating days left before Christmas, and as New Year’s 2061 approaches, this homicide cop is resolved to stop a cold-blooded killer.

I become ridiculously excited when a new In Death book appears at the bookstores. You all know how much I love this series, but Festive in Death blew me out of the water.

Festive in Death brings out the best parts of Eve and Roarke. Eve’s character shines in this novel: she is sarcastic, a little mushy at certain points of the novel, and absolutely determined to find her killer. The victim himself strikes a particular chord in Eve, forcing her to rise above her past in order to stand for the dead like she always does. 

That being said, the past few novels have really delved into Eve’s history, and I enjoyed that Festive in Death breaks away from that mold. Eve’s story is fascinating and has truly built her character, but I liked the change. 

The mystery itself was fantastic. I read this book while cooking, while eating dinner…I tried to read while washing the dishes, but that didn’t work out so well. My point? I loved this plot. The victim’s harsh, selfish personality set against the nature of the crime intrigued me, but as his story evolved and came to light, it became downright irresistible. Trey’s dark, manipulative nature hurt almost everyone he came into contact with and I wanted to get inside his mind. I wanted to know what made him tick, to do what he did. The plot crescendos and twists that emerged as the story went on made the elements so engaging. I mean, who on earth saw that coming?

Posted November 11, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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October 31, 2014

Review | The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Title: The Silkworm
Author: Robert Galbraith {website}
Publication Date: June 2014

Publisher: Mulhound Books
Series: Cormoran Strike {Book 2}
Source & Format: Owned; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives—meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before… 

I saved this book to read during Halloween, but I had no idea how much it would frighten me. The dark mystery, the grisly murder, and the complex characters created an aura that I couldn’t resist. 

A missing person mystery is fascinating to me – it is the equivalent of a whodunit. Where is the person, why did they leave, and, most importantly, what happened? Strike’s newest case, brought to him by Leonora Quine, the odd wife of the odder writer, intrigued me while Strike found it somewhat dull. There was something wrong, something off about her request that created a dark atmosphere right off the bat. It is the kind of atmosphere that makes for rainy days, long nights, and a world smeared in grey – perfect for a murder mystery. 

It was the murder itself that spun The Silkworm into overdrive. The horrible scene that Strike stumbles upon (no, I’m not going to say) made me freeze and think Did I just really read that? Nope. I had. The murder scene, instead of narrowing down the collection of suspects, widened the field and motivated all of those suspects to start building their defenses. It was fascinating to watch these characters backpedal, cover their tracks, or pretend to know everything about the murdered author and his unpublished book, when they knew next to nothing. 

The discovery of Quine’s murder forced the already vibrant characters to reveal their true motives and thoughts despite themselves. I particularly loved how the publishers, fairly one-dimensional characters on  the surface, opened up to reveal complex characters underneath. Each of the characters, no matter how small their role, had a complexity and depth that I loved. 

The Cormoran Strike novels have become one of my favorite mystery series because of the depth of characters – the mystery is fine and fascinating, but when there is a well-crafted character cast in the mix, I’m in love. 


Posted October 31, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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September 23, 2014

Review | Personal by Lee Child

Title: Personal
Author: Lee Child {website}
Publication Date: September 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Series: Jack Reacher {Book 19} 
Source & Format: Netgalley; ebook
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Jack Reacher walks alone. Once a go-to hard man in the US military police, now he’s a drifter of no fixed abode. But the army tracks him down. Because someone has taken a long-range shot at the French president.

Only one man could have done it. And Reacher is the one man who can find him.

This new heartstopping, nailbiting book in Lee Child’s number-one bestselling series takes Reacher across the Atlantic to Paris – and then to London. The stakes have never been higher – because this time, it’s personal.

I had really high hopes for Lee Child’s Personal. One of my coworkers has been telling me for years to try the Jack Reacher series, so when I saw the newest available on Netgalley, I jumped. I expect heart-pounding action, thrilling fight sequences a la The Bourne Identity, and some snappy dialogue.

There was none of that. 

Thinking it over now, maybe it was a mistake for me to just jump in the series without trying to start at the beginning. I hoped that the Jack Reacher series would be a lot of like the J.D. Robb In Death series (I didn’t start at the beginning there) and I could read out of order. However, Child builds off of previous character development and events without going into much detail, leaving me feeling a little bereft and missing out on a lot of the character’s development. 

I never connected with Reacher. His first person narration didn’t provide any insight into his mind, his emotions; he felt almost robotic. At times, I forgot who was talking because he (and others) so rarely referred to himself. Looking at his stats, he felt like he should be an interesting character, but when it came down to the execution of it, he was as flat as the page. 

The story’s premise and execution of the plot fell along the same lines as its main character. It sounded interesting, it had promise, but in the midst of it all, I got bored. There was no tension, nothing to grab on to in order to keep me engaged. I stopped reading today to go run a few errands and, standing in line at the grocery store, I couldn’t remember what was happening. Personal felt the opposite of personal; flat and uninspired. 

What really did it for me was the writing. Child had Reacher tell us, instead of show us. Instead of describing the action as it happened, it had to filter through Reacher’s thoughts, a process that dramatically slowed down what could have been some pretty cool scenes. Instead, they were dull and full of sentences starting with “I said…”, “I did…”, “I”, “I”, “I”. 

Child’s first Reacher novel, Killing Floor, is on my bookshelf, waiting to be read. There was enough promise here for me to still be curious enough to read it. Maybe that book is what I need to bring Personal into perspective.


Posted September 23, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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August 25, 2014

Summer of Sookie | All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

Title: All Together Dead
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publication Date: January 2007
Publisher: Ace Books
Series: Sookie Stackhouse {Book 7}
Source & Format: Library; paperback
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse has her hands full dealing with every sort of undead and paranormal creature imaginable. And after being betrayed by her longtime vampire love, Sookie must not only deal with a new man in her life—the shapeshifter Quinn—but also contend with the long-planned vampire summit.

The summit is a tense situation. The vampire queen of Louisiana is in a precarious position, her power base weakened by hurricane damage to New Orleans. And there are some vamps who would like to finish what nature started. Soon, Sookie must decide what side she’ll stand with. And her choice may mean the difference between survival and all-out catastrophe.

The more Sookie and I hang out, the more conflicted my feelings become for the series. 

You see, I rather like her. She’s really grown into herself, character-wise. There’s a hard edge of skepticism hiding in her that I appreciate after reading all of her adventures, one that offsets her (sometimes overwhelming) natural optimism. I’ve used a lot of words and terms to describe Sookie’s changes over The Summer of Sookie, like “evolve,” “develop” and “grow”. However, in All Together Dead, Sookie takes a backseat. 

Her character doesn’t go on hold for All Together Dead; not at all. There’s just so many other things going on that Sookie resorts to becoming a narrator of events instead of a major player. Some will find the massive amounts of new characters to be 1)irritating, 2) too much, or 3) the last straw. I completely understand all of these potential reactions. For me, I felt that the massive amounts (I use the same term because there are a ton) of new characters and side plots provide atmosphere and personality to what has otherwise been a very small slice of the vampire/supernatural world. Sookie’s position as narrator in All Together Dead allows her to still add in her own two cents, but also expand the plot to allow these other characters roles to play in the future. 

Granted, there were elements of the plot that felt far-fetched and unnaturally forced, especially nearing the end of the novel. The relationships between Sookie and her two vampires (Eric and Bill) need to be resolved and quickly, before the tension becomes stretched out into tedium. 

It was a little strange how all of the Bon Temps plotlines quickly take a sideline to the vampire summit. The entire novel felt like Harris took Bon Temps, tossed it in a drawer, and rewrote Sookie in an entirely new place. The disregard for overarcing series story lines drove me a little batty during All Together Dead because I was constantly wondering how Jason was getting on, or this person, or this plot. I don’t mind the narration of Sookie’s working vacation, but keeping in touch with the previous plots would have been nice. 

I did love the action and tension that the vampire summit provided in All Together Dead. The tension between not only humans and vampires, but among the vampires themselves touched back to the original themes of equality, prejudice, and fairness. I enjoyed seeing these themes rise again (it’s been a while).


– At times, the plot felt very well thought-out and founded, and during others, it was just a mess. 
– Sookie’s narration of the events at the vampire summit were engaging and kept her forefront in my mind.
– Wish the Bon Temps plot hadn’t taken such a backseat.

Posted August 25, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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August 7, 2014

Review | The Templar Salvation by Raymond Khoury

Title: The Templar Salvation
Author: Raymond Khoury {website}
Publication Date: October 2010
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Series: Templar {Book 2}
Source & Format: Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Constantinople, 1203: As the rapacious armies of the Fourth Crusade lay siege to the city, a secretive band of Templars infiltrate the imperial library. Their target: a cache of documents that must not be allowed to fall into the hands of the Doge of Venice. They escape with three heavy chests, filled with explosive secrets that these men will not live long enough to learn. Vatican City, present day: FBI agent Sean Reilly infiltrates the Pope’s massive Vatican Secret Archives of the Inquisition. No one but the Pope’s trusted secondi get in-but Reilly has earned the Vatican’s trust, a trust he has no choice but to violate. His love, Tess Chaykin, has been kidnapped; the key to her freedom lays in this underground tomb, in the form of a document known as the Fondo Templari, a secret history of the infamous Templars.

My fascination with the Templars, Catholic Church, and the mysterious Vacation keeps me coming back to books like The Templar Salvation, but after finishing the second book in the series, I’m done with Raymond Khoury’s writing. The first installment in the series, The Last Templar, had its ups and downs, but was an okay read (it earned three stars in my book).

One of the major flaws with The Templar Salvation fell in Khoury’s constant struggle to bring his second novel to the glory of the first scene in The Last Templar. The awe and fear of those four horsemen riding into the Met and destroying everything in their path set such high expectations for not only the first book, but the entire series. The opening scene of The Templar Salvation follows in the exact path, but can’t summon up the suspense and mystery to live up to its predecessor. Instead of being riveted in my seat with my mind’s eye watching the catastrophe unfold, I focused on the mundane of the scene in the Vatican (occasionally comparing it with that scene in the film version of Angels and Demons when Tom Hanks gets stuck in one of the Vatican archives, but I had just watched the movie). The suspense was lacking, but the struggle to create it was obvious. 

I was disappointed with Tess and Sean’s relationship. We left them at the end of The Last Templar with a happily-ever-after of sorts, and the falling out that ensued during the period between books wasn’t necessary. It created a rift between the two characters that was never quite healed and made their chemistry’s mismash stick out like a sore thumb in the plot. The motives for the breakup were believable, but the motivations for reuniting felt too forced.

The action scenes redeemed the book more often than not. I loved the pacing, the suspense, and the brutality of some of the characters. These were the scenes when the book came alive in my hands. The only issue? Some of the scenes went on for far too long and became a little redundant. 

Unlike The Last Templar, The Templar Salvation never provides a proper introduction to the villain or his motives. One of the elements I loved in the first installment was the psychological background and motivations of Vance. His history made him come alive as a character; the villain of The Templar Salvation was a cardboard cutout. I didn’t understand his motives and had no sympathy for his character. 

By the end, I didn’t care anymore. I wanted it to be over. There were some redeeming qualities in the action scenes, but they weren’t enough to fix the book’s main issues. 


– lack of suspense
– poor character motivations 
– no intro to villain!
– action scenes were the highlight

Posted August 7, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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August 4, 2014

Review | Did Not Finish: The Shadow of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark

Title: The Shadow of Your Smile 
Author: Mary Higgins Clark
Publication Date: April 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source & Format: Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

At age eighty-two and in failing health, Olivia Morrow knows she has little time left. The last of her line, she faces a momentous choice: expose a long-held family secret, or take it with her to her grave.
Olivia has in her possession letters from her deceased cousin Catherine, a nun, now being considered for beatification by the Catholic Church–the final step before sainthood. In her lifetime, Sister Catherine had founded seven hospitals for disabled children. Now the cure of a four-year-old boy dying of brain cancer is being attributed to her. After his case was pronounced medically hopeless, the boy’s desperate mother had organized a prayer crusade to Sister Catherine, leading to his miraculous recovery.

The letters Olivia holds are the evidence that Catherine gave birth at age seventeen to a child, a son, and gave him up for adoption. Olivia knows the identity of the young man who fathered Catherine’s child: Alex Gannon, who went on to become a world-famous doctor, scientist, and inventor holding medical patents.
Now, two generations later, thirty-one-year-old pediatrician Dr. Monica Farrell, Catherine’s granddaughter, stands as the rightful heir to what remains of the family fortune. But in telling Monica who she really is, Olivia would have to betray Catherine’s wishes and reveal the story behind Monica’s ancestry. The Gannon fortune is being squandered by Alex’s nephews Greg and Peter Gannon, and other board members of the Gannon Foundation, who camouflage their profligate lifestyles with philanthropy.

Now their carefully constructed image is cracking. Greg, a prominent financier, is under criminal investigation, and Peter, a Broadway producer, is a suspect in the murder of a young woman who has been extorting money from him.
The only people aware of Olivia’s impending choice are those exploiting the Gannon inheritance. To silence Olivia and prevent Monica from learning the secret, some of them will stop at nothing–even murder.

There is a huge following for Mary Higgins Clark, but this is the first time I picked up one of her novels at the library. Out of the massive selection (took up half of the case!), I grabbed The Shadow of Your Smile because, duh duh dum, I liked the cover. Sometimes this strategy works amazingly well for me; at other times, like this one, it failed. 

I’ve been on the hunt for another J.D. Robb/In Death mystery series to read as I’ve devoured the entire series and have to keep myself from rereading. My hope was that Clark would be my next favorite mystery writer, but the lack of plot really stood out in The Shadow of Your Smile. The ideas were there, but there was no connective thread to keep me interested. It was a struggle to pick this book up again to read it; I would actually find other things to do instead of reading this book (I got to season five of The Office!). The plot itself had too many moving parts that didn’t share the overall plot’s goal; to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what the point of this book was…

Out of all the characters, I enjoyed Monica the most, but she was the only highlight. There were so many other personalities jam-packed into this book that it was difficult to keep them straight. I didn’t understand half of the motivations, and the constant variation in narration (first Monica’s, then the assassin’s, followed by Olivia and her doctor) was just too much to keep track of. Eventually it became frustrating, irritating, and finally descended into the worst realm: I didn’t care

I read to page 160 and threw in the towel. The characters would have been interesting if there weren’t so many scrambling for the reader’s attention. The plot needed to be more defined; I can only go so far on the premise of a secret. The lack of foresight and thought that went into The Shadow of Your Smile made my first experience with Mary Higgins Clark a bust


– poorly constructed plot
– honestly, too many characters
– too many minor plots to keep track of
– I couldn’t get past the halfway point

Posted August 4, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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