WHAT THE DEVIL KNOWS by C.S. Harris

Sebastian St. Cyr thought a notorious serial killer had been brought to justice until a shocking series of gruesome new murders stuns the city in this thrilling historical mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of Who Speaks for the Damned.

It’s October 1814. The war with France is finally over and Europe’s diplomats are convening in Vienna for a conference that will put their world back together. With peace finally at hand, London suddenly finds itself in the grip of a series of heinous murders eerily similar to the Ratcliffe Highway murders of three years before.

In 1811, two entire families were viciously murdered in their homes. A suspect–a young seaman named John Williams–was arrested. But before he could be brought to trial, Williams hanged himself in his cell. The murders ceased, and London slowly began to breathe easier. But when the lead investigator, Sir Edwin Pym, is killed in the same brutal way three years later and others possibly connected to the original case meet violent ends, the city is paralyzed with terror once more.

Was the wrong man arrested for the murders? Bow Street magistrate Sir Henry Lovejoy turns to his friend Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, for assistance. Pym’s colleagues are convinced his manner of death is a coincidence, but Sebastian has his doubts. The more he looks into the three-year-old murders, the more certain he becomes that the hapless John Williams was not the real killer. Which begs the question–who was and why are they dead set on killing again?


Title : What The Devil Knows
Author : C.S. Harris
Series : Sebastian St. Cyr (book sixteen)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : historical fiction / crime mystery
Publisher : Berkley Books
Release Date : April 6, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I’m rather tempted to round up on this one, at which point this intro will be deleted, but for now (or for good), I am a little hesitant. I don’t know if I’m thinking more fondly of this experience because it’s been a year since the last installment, around the same time I binged like.. fourteen of these back to back (which was just too much), or because it was just a little better than the last few.

We had a few moments of what I refer to as “copy paste” scenes which Harris seems to include in all her books but overall, much like the last book, there were quite a few less than usual. I was delighted.

The murder mystery itself was.. kind of all over the place. In the sense that there were so many pieces and moving parts and you really don’t see the big picture until the end. I both love and hate these kind of mysteries because I find the complexity very artful but it also means that if you aren’t being compelled by the new clues, you’re just sorta being dragged along. Which wasn’t quite the case here but it was close.

What saved said mystery from feeling too out of place from too many pieces of the puzzle were some familiar, and new, faces that tie into Sebastian’s personal life. I was curious why we were reunited with a few of them but oh you understand why come the end. I can’t say I totally saw that coming but neither was it a complete surprise. There was another event that finally came to pass that I think means we might finally be building up to something else (why am I even expanding on these vagueries..) that has been brewing for, I swear, like four or five books now. When is that confrontation going to happen! Will it ever! Why do I ask the same rhetorical questions in every review for this series! I’m not mad I’m just making a point about my own ridiculousness.

Much like some other series I’m keeping up with, I wonder how many more are still to come in the Sebastian St Cyr series. However unlike those other series, I’m not currently mad about this one.. well, continuing on. Despite some of the rehashing and a new murder mystery of the week duds, somehow, I’m still looking forward to more. Maybe because I just want to payoff of everything that we’ve come to expect will (one day) be revealed. Any hints on when that might be, Harris..? No? Cool. Cool cool cool cool cool. See you next year.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

BEFORE SHE DISAPPEARED by Lisa Gardner

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner, a propulsive thriller featuring an ordinary woman who will stop at nothing to find the missing people that the rest of the world has forgotten

Frankie Elkin is an average middle-aged woman, a recovering alcoholic with more regrets than belongings. But she spends her life doing what no one else will–searching for missing people the world has stopped looking for. When the police have given up, when the public no longer remembers, when the media has never paid attention, Frankie starts looking.

A new case brings her to Mattapan, a Boston neighborhood with a rough reputation. She is searching for Angelique Badeau, a Haitian teenager who vanished from her high school months earlier. Resistance from the Boston PD and the victim’s wary family tells Frankie she’s on her own–and she soon learns she’s asking questions someone doesn’t want answered. But Frankie will stop at nothing to discover the truth, even if it means the next person to go missing could be her.


Title : Before She Disappeared
Author : Lisa Gardner
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : crime/mystery
Publisher : Dutton
Release Date : January 26, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Incase you’re wondering how this fits into Gardner’s DD Universe, or various connected series, surprise! It doesn’t. BEFORE SHE DIED is a standalone from this prolific author and stands apart (at least for now?) and in a sense our protagonist, Frankie Elkin, feels like a combination of all Gardner’s other leading ladies.

What Frankie does is investigate missing persons cases, specifically people of colour, whose disappearances have remained unsolved, long gone cold. This definitely gave me a bit of a Flora vibe, minus the vigilante thing, because Frankie has no investigative experience, isn’t pretending to be a cop or a private detective. She is a full on civilian, leaning into the perks of having no red tape to contend with, while somehow managing to ask the right questions, poke the right bears, and use her single-minded focus as an limitless resource to do what the police can’t : find answers. And though she is without training, and heeds no rules, she gave me serious DD vibes with her wit, and her addiction, as a recovering addict, made me think of Rainie. See? Little bit of everyone.

Did I like her though? I don’t know. Sometimes. She definitely has a bit of mystery of her own, some backstory that haunts her, and haunts us too with teasing little moments that make us wonder what happened, what would possess a middle aged woman to be transient, traveling from city to city, state to state, working odd jobs to make a living wage for the length of time she needs to search out the missing person, only to pick up and leave. I love the idea of this. I love how Gardner leaned into the loneliness of it, the fixation, a different form of addiction — one she doesn’t resist, one she feeds, even as she fights the call of a drink — and yet I never truly.. felt her, understood her. Maybe that’s realistic, though. Maybe we’re not supposed to. No one else seems to.

The mystery of this story? So unique. I’m not sure I’ve read one like it. It twists and turns, the pieces never seem to quite fit, much less seem to actually belong to the same puzzle, and yet it did all inevitably make sense.

What I liked almost as much as the concept? The setting and, as it went hand in hand, the supporting cast. This takes place in a very multicultural area in Boston and the mix of neighbours, the various people Frankie befriends, orbits around, they all felt rich, solid, like people I would want to know. It makes me sad that even if we get another story featuring Frankie, it won’t be with these other characters. Or, rather, unlikely to be. Because that defeats the concept of her existence, of her mission.

Overall this was really solid, though I definitely found the first half more compelling, and while it probably won’t make the cut if I ever did a Top Ten Gardner Books list? I still had a good time with it.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

THE SILENT WIFE by Karin Slaughter

Investigating the killing of a prisoner during a riot inside a state penitentiary, GBI investigator Will Trent is confronted with disturbing information. One of the inmates claims that he is innocent of a brutal attack for which he has always been the prime suspect. The man insists that he was framed by a corrupt law enforcement team led by Jeffrey Tolliver and that the real culprit is still out there—a serial killer who has systematically been preying on women across the state for years. If Will reopens the investigation and implicates the dead police officer with a hero’s reputation of wrongdoing, the opportunistic convict is willing to provide the information GBI needs about the riot murder.

Only days ago, another young woman was viciously murdered in a state park in northern Georgia. Is it a fluke, or could there be a serial killer on the loose?

As Will Trent digs into both crimes it becomes clear that he must solve the cold case in order to find the answer. Yet nearly a decade has passed—time for memories to fade, witnesses to vanish, evidence to disappear, and lies to become truth. But Will can’t crack either mystery without the help of the one person he doesn’t want involved: his girlfriend and Jeffrey Tolliver’s widow, medical examiner Sara Linton.

When the past and present begin to collide, Will realizes that everything he values is at stake . . . 


Title : The Silent Wife
Author : Karin Slaughter
Series : Will Trent (book ten)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 498
Genre : thriller/mystery
Publisher : William Morrow
Release Date : August 4, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

I’m actually pretty tempted to round up on this one. This book consumed me. It’s almost five hundred pages and yet I flew through it, hardly able to tear myself away, and when it ended I could’ve read two hundred more pages. It was that good.

But it’s also.. not good. As usual Slaughter does not hold back and this particular case, which requires some time jumping, was dark and brutal. There are some horrible things to navigate but thankfully nothing on-page, however we do have to live through the breakdown of events through the investigation of the case. If you’ve read this far into this series, however, you’ll know what’s to come. And for those who haven’t? Why are you even here, this is book ten! In a series that spins off another. Go back and start with Grant County, please. You can thank me later.

And speaking of said series.. Slaughter gave us such a gift. The way she ended her first series was devastating. And I think in some ways we’ve all come to romanticize certain things — though I obviously can’t speak for everyone. What the author did in The Silent Wife? Makes all of us (sorry, again, maybe just me) want to go back and do some serious ass kicking. This author always knows how it push my buttons and it’s not just in the horror sense. She writes these characters that make you want to reach through the page and bitchslap them. And we got three of them in this one. Familiar faces one and all and ugh. Visceral reactions, I had them. Five stars for making me feel almost unrivaled hate and disgust and disappointment. Thanks for that.

As for the mystery itself, I actually guessed this one! Ten points to me. I don’t think the foreshadowing was actually that obvious but like. I kept noticing something. It could easily have been a red herring but my gut wouldn’t let go of it. I couldn’t have rationalized it or pointed out anything to back it up. And yet. So, yeah, I’m proud. But wow what a mindfuck for.. well, one of our characters. I’m not spoiling.

On the relationship front (also, please, read the author’s note at the end, I loved it and Slaughter made me laugh at her comment regarding romance), we had some serious ups and downs to navigate. As one would expect. The author is dragging this out but now.. oh now. This was a great foil, a perfect tipping point, and getting the side by side of memory vs present, now and then, well. Obviously I have a favourite. Obviously I love these two. But I love all the characters, too. Our supporting favourites were in their element and everything just worked. Brilliant.

I’m so happy there is still more to come in this world. Thank you, Slaughter, for confirming that. Is it too soon to be asking for it.. now?

NONE SHALL SLEEP by Ellie Marney

The Silence of the Lambs meets Sadie in this riveting psychological thriller about two teenagers teaming up with the FBI to track down juvenile serial killers.

In 1982, two teenagers—serial killer survivor Emma Lewis and US Marshal candidate Travis Bell—are recruited by the FBI to interview convicted juvenile killers and provide insight and advice on cold cases. From the start, Emma and Travis develop a quick friendship, gaining information from juvenile murderers that even the FBI can’t crack. But when the team is called in to give advice on an active case—a serial killer who exclusively hunts teenagers—things begin to unravel. Working against the clock, they must turn to one of the country’s most notorious incarcerated murderers for help: teenage sociopath Simon Gutmunsson. Despite Travis’s objections, Emma becomes the conduit between Simon and the FBI team. But while Simon seems to be giving them the information they need to save lives, he’s an expert manipulator playing a very long game…and he has his sights set on Emma.


Title : None Shall Sleep
Author : Ellie Marney
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA historical fiction/thriller
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : September 1, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I think I would’ve enjoyed this a lot more if the tone, or writing style, had been a little different. Because the way this thriller unfolded, the chase, the crimes and the why, the whole set-up of using teens to hunt those who hunt and kill teens, is all fascinating. The fact that the backstories of these these junior investigators (not highschool age, this is a bit more realistic than that) were so traumatic, in very different ways, and how they battled those demons to do this work.. it was great.

Equally great was sidestepping much of what the female protagonist had gone through. We get hints, terrible hints, but nothing is explicitly explained and instead Marney lets us use our imagination — the scariest thing she could’ve done. It also, in a way, feels protective. Conversely, though, the author also leans into that when it comes to another character and that tease, as opposed to hitting us with every terrible thing, carries so much more weight.. but for a different purpose.

However. I felt quite removed from.. a lot of this. Maybe that was purposeful because there are pretty gruesome, not to mention traumatic, moments but Marney didn’t linger over them, didn’t sensationalize them, as they were already impactful. And yet still.. there were maybe only two highly charged moments that I truly felt, was truly moved by, and that just wasn’t quite enough.

I’m also left very curious as to how things wrapped. Is this the beginning of a series, maybe? Could there be more? I would absolutely read on. Maybe being familiar with the style would make a follow up book more enjoyable. I don’t know. But these two characters have me so curious as to where they would go next. Plus I liked how effortless it was to be thrown into the eighties without a thousand blinking neon signs reminding us of that fact at every turn. It was nice to leave the current timeline and skate back to something different. Even if it wasn’t sunshine and rainbows.

If you’re looking for thrills and chills during this spooky season, I would totally give this a try!

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

WHEN YOU SEE ME by Lisa Gardner

Bestselling author Lisa Gardner unites three of her most loved characters -Detective D.D. Warren, Flora Dane, and Kimberly Quincy – in a twisty new thriller, as they investigate a mysterious murder from the past that points to a dangerous and chilling present-day crime.

FBI Special Agent Kimberly Quincy and Sergeant Detective DD Warren have built a task force to follow the digital bread crumbs left behind by deceased serial kidnapper Jacob Ness. And when a disturbing piece of evidence comes to light, they decide to bring in Flora Dane who has personal experience of being imprisoned by Ness.

Their investigations take them to a small town deep in the hills of Georgia where something seems to be deeply wrong.

What at first seems like a Gothic eeriness soon hardens into something much more sinister as they discover that for all the evil Jacob committed while alive, his worst secret is still to be revealed.

Quincy and DD must summon their considerable skills and experience to crack the most disturbing case of their careers – and Flora must face her own past directly in the hope of saving others.


Title : When You See Me
Author : Lisa Gardner
Series : Detective D. D. Warren (book eleven)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : mystery/thriller
Publisher : Dutton
Release Date : January 28, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I’m writing this review before my review for book ten of this series has even gone live on the blog. In that other post, I was effusive and bubbly after rediscovering my love for this series, as the installments before had been good, but not great. Well, we’ve returned to the good. But that’s not a bad thing.

Book eleven feels like almost a direct continuation of the story in book ten. We have DD, Kimberly, and Flora all partnered up, along with Keith, a civilian crime enthusiast, expert in his own way, and on their way to Georgia when it appears they may have found one of the first of Jacob Ness’ victims. However, things are not quite what they appeared.. and yet also more.

I’ll admit the victim-ish POV story wasn’t really doing much for me. I felt something but not enough to really keep me totally focused, and interested, in what appeared to be a subplot to the main event. Except.. things shifted around the 40% mark and that’s when a) things took off and b) things got interesting. But overall there were definitely chapters where I just wasn’t as dialed in as I was in the book before it.

This feels like a huge turning point for Flora, not quite closure but the most she’ll probably ever have, and the way Gardner pivoted that moment into something bigger, connecting to the discovery in book ten, was well done. Again, big picture wise, this was huge for the series and for this trio of women, Flora in particular. And while the conspiracy that’s discovered is kind of mind boggling, and crazy clever, overall I just wasn’t super into it.

With the way things have resolved, I’ll be curious to see how much page time we get from Flora and Kimberly in future books. Because we also have a new element introduced to DD’s life, one I’m both super soft about and also a wee bit perplexed, but hey. I’m still very curious as to what comes next.

** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

NEVER TELL by Lisa Gardner

A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun. 

D.D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman–Evie Carter–from a case many years back. Evie’s father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many. 

Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim–a hostage–and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad’s murder. 

But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?


Title : Never Tell
Author : Lisa Gardner
Series : Detective D.D. Warren (book ten)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 414
Genre : mystery/thriller
Publisher : Dutton
Release Date : February 19, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’ll be the first to admit that while it was Gardner, and her three cross-over series, that kicked off my renewed fascination with the thriller/mystery/detective genre back in 2016, the last few installments of this main series (correction, sorry, it’s been one book and one novella) just haven’t wowed me. For various reasons. But NEVER TELL? Hi hello, we’re back again.

This story slots in under the main Detective D.D. Warren series but, like most of Gardner’s books, there’s crossover. Recently, since book eight, the survivor of that story has become a supporting character as she transitioned into a vigilante slash confidential informant, aka CI, for DD. And she’s not the only familiar face.

I really couldn’t recommend this book to people who hadn’t read at least the last three, starting from FIND HER, but honestly this whole series is worth investing in. Are they all great? No. But there’s been such an evolution, including the books in the companion/spin-offs, and those are even relevant for a certain guest-star in this book, both in character and how some of the stories weave together, that even the stories that don’t rate as high still feel worth the effort (also, for some perspective, I’ve only rated one book below three stars and while that was the first book.. let’s just say the opening books were a different vibe). Basically what I’m saying is block out some reading time over the holidays, put the whole backlist on hold at your local library, and get ready to rock and roll. And by rock and roll I mean experience some dark twisty additive af procedurals.

This review has become less about the book and more about the series as a whole but honestly there’s not much you can put in a review for a thriller that the summary doesn’t already.. summarize. There are twists, death, and surprises. Rinse and repeat. This mystery definitely had a tighter pacing than the last, unfurled in a great way, and also had me tearing up. So I guess we can throw ’emotions’ into that list, too.

I can’t wait for the next one.

THE ART OF THEFT by Sherry Thomas

As “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” Charlotte Holmes has solved murders and found missing individuals. But she has never stolen a priceless artwork—or rather, made away with the secrets hidden behind a much-coveted canvas.
 
But Mrs. Watson is desperate to help her old friend recover those secrets and Charlotte finds herself involved in a fever-paced scheme to infiltrate a glamorous Yuletide ball where the painting is one handshake away from being sold and the secrets a bare breath from exposure.
 
Her dear friend Lord Ingram, her sister Livia, Livia’s admirer Stephen Marbleton—everyone pitches in to help and everyone has a grand time. But nothing about this adventure is what it seems and disaster is biding time on the grounds of a glittering French chateau, waiting only for Charlotte to make a single mistake…


Title : The Art of Theft
Author : Sherry Thomas
Series : Lady Sherlock (book four)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 303
Genre : historical fiction/mystery
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : October 15, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I think I expected way too much from this book. And that’s a me problem.

I’ve had a pretty up and down experience with this series but it had all really started to turn around by book three. However I should’ve known that the things I wanted from this series, particular after that last installment, wouldn’t happen so soon. Or the way I wanted.

I didn’t mind the mystery of the week, and there was both an appropriate amount of character growth and/or realization, as well as reluctance, both of things I can’t really disclose this far into the series, but I guess I still expected things to come to a head? Which they almost did? Just to get foiled at the very last paragraph.. literally. That said, the way the conflict tied into the bigger picture, even though it meant reuniting us with certain characters I would’ve preferred not to see again, was pretty clever.

Also, I’m happy that the rest of this plucky ensemble Scooby Doo cast gets more and more spotlight each book. It isn’t just the Charlotte/Sherlock show. Even if their own storylines didn’t get quite the HEA wrap-up that they deserved. But there’s still more (how many?) books to go, so. Maybe.

I will continue to read on but I’m sad this didn’t overtake my love for book three. I guess here’s hoping, once again, for book five.

** I received a ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **