Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

bring me backBring Me Back 
By B.A. Paris
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9781250151339
Pages: 336
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

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A young British couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she’s not inside. No one ever sees her again.

Ten years later he’s engaged to be married; he’s happy, and his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She’s turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love.

As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?


My Thoughts

I love a good mystery and thriller. The quick pace and twisty events are often the perfect recipe to break up oncoming reading slumps and liven up my TBR. For that reason, I try to always incorporate them into my current reading piles periodically. This was my first encounter with BA Paris, so I admittedly had no specific expectations when I began Bring Me Back, but being the honest reviewer I am, I am sure they were higher than what I ultimately received.

The skinny..

Mysteries are meant to be just that. They are best left to be explored by the reader. For that reason and the amount of predictability I encountered with this particular story, I am opting to skip my usual recap and leaving you simply with the blurb.

“That was the statement I gave to the police, sitting in the police station somewhere off the A1 in France. It was the truth. But not quite the whole truth.”

What I appreciated..

  • This was a case of an unreliable narrator. Or is it? We simply do not know and it works well to initially heighten the mystery of Bring Me Back.
  • An alternating timeline delivers a story that unfolds at a rather quick pace in easy to digest chunks that I appreciated.
  • BA Paris clearly has a knack with the pen, creating a fluid and inviting read if only just for how effortless it is.

Challenges some may encounter..

  • I would be lying to state that there was not a large amount of predictability within the plot. I had the majority of it pegged by page 75, which was too soon for myself.
  • It was difficult to establish a connection with the narrator and characters, as emotion is not conveyed very well on the page.
  • The abrupt change of story at the half-way point felt clunky and really failed to add any value to my experience.
  • The final conclusion was highly improbable and demanded a lot from the reader in terms of surrendering all belief. While I will not expand on this for the obvious reasons, I was not able to overlook the multitude of holes and issues here.

In the end, Bring Me Back was an initially appealing and fast-paced read that while maybe not entirely plausible still entertaining. However, I struggled with the predictability and lack of complexity. I still believe that fans of the author and those seeking a lighter read will find easy enjoyment within this one.

*I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press for this advanced copy. The quote included above are from the advanced copy and subject to change. This review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

 

Pairs well with a nice large blanket a cup of Earl Grey.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,
Danielle ❤

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Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

36315374 Jar of Hearts
By Jennifer Hillier
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ISBN: 9781250154194
Pages: 320
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

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This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?


My Thoughts

First drawn in by the lush cover, I was completely sold upon finishing the synopsis. It turns out I was instantly drawn to Jar of Hearts for many good reasons. Craving a story full of delicious twists and turns, I have to admit that Hillier delivered and exceeded on all my expectations.

The Skinny..

As this is a mystery (a dark and beautifully twisted one), I will refrain from divulging too many details in terms of actual plot but I do want to attempt to sum it up briefly. This is a classic case of whodunnit with very unexpected results. We are introduced to Georgina Shaw (Geo) a successful executive in her fiancee’s pharmaceutical company 14 years after the disappearance of her teenage friend Angela Wong. When Angela’s remains are discovered in the woods very close to Geo’s childhood home and her past boyfriend Calvin James, who was later convicted of several other murders, becomes the primary suspect, she soon finds herself at the center of the investigation. When she decides to open up about what really happened all of those years ago she is sent to prison. But now new victims are beginning to surface, pointing to bigger secrets. The story is far from over.

If it sounds like a lot, that’s because Jar of Hearts has a lot going on in the best of ways!

“…but the guilt is still there, stinking like an invisible piece of rotting garbage underneath your bed that won’t go away no matter how many attempts you make to clean it. Because that smell – of rotting flesh, of rotting soul – is you.”

What I appreciated..

  • Jar of Hearts is one of those rare, gripping page-turners that hooks you within mere pages making it impossible to put down. Many will find this to be a one sit read.
  • Hillier’s writing is smart, crisp and incredibly raw lending a tremendous amount of credibility to story and characters that rewards the reader with a gripping and fully atmospheric experience.
  • This is a complex, multifaceted plot that relies on revelations, continually delivering the unexpected while feeding us just enough to encourage further exploration.
  • The protagonist Geo is beautifully flawed. Her struggles and emotions transfer to page with great ease creating an emotional connection with the reader that is viable and strong.
  • An unforeseeable and explosive ending left me begging for more. I can honestly admit that Hillier took me by complete surprise and I loved it!

“…years had passed, and it seemed like maybe the past would be buried. A bad pun, but fitting nonetheless.”

Challenges some may encounter..

  • This is a very graphic read. Please be warned that there are multiple triggers including violence, rape, and more. I am trying to refrain from divulging details but please feel free to contact or message me with any questions or concerns before starting this one. 
  • The ending while successfully surprising did feel slightly rushed, however, I still walked away ready to read more from this author.

Jar of Hearts is the sort of read that defines my expectations for the mystery and thriller genre and then easily exceeds them. Hillier offers readers a rewarding experience that draws them in from the first page and refuses to let go until the very gripping end. Be prepared to sit on the edge of your seat and hold your breath.

*I would like to thank Minotaur & Netgalley for this advanced copy. The quotes included above are from the advanced copy and subject to change. This review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

 

I recommend a nice herbal blend or chamomile to help settle the nerves while reading this dark, twisted thriller.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,
Danielle ❤

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The Forgotten Girls by Owen Laukkanen

30763903The Forgotten Girls
(Stevens & Windermere #6)
By Owen Laukkanen
Narrated by  Edoardo Ballerini
Audio Book Publisher: Recorded Books
ASIN: B06XC6WDM3
Unabridged: 9 HR 45 Min
Genre: Crime Thriller/Mystery

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They are the victims no one has ever cared about, until now. Agents Stevens and Windermere return in this new crime novel.

She was a forgotten girl, a runaway found murdered on the High Line train through the northern Rocky Mountains and, with little local interest, put into a dead file. But she was not alone. When Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere of the joint FBI-BCA violent crime force stumble upon the case, they discover a horror far greater than anyone expected—a string of murders on the High Line, all of them young women drifters whom no one would notice.

But someone has noticed now. Through the bleak midwinter and a frontier land of forbidding geography, Stevens and Windermere follow a frustratingly light trail of clues—and where it ends, even they will be shocked.


My Thoughts

First of all, I want to admit that this was my first encounter with the Stevens & Windermere series, and it worked beautifully as a standalone. I enjoyed the detectives, even though I know it is probably more beneficial to follow them from book one. I am sure that an even stronger connection can be established.

Sixth in the series, The Forgotten Girls takes us on a journey to uncover a killer who is targeting young female drifters. When Kirk Stephens and Carla Windermere find themselves at the center of a murder investigation involving a young woman who was train-hopping in a last-ditch effort to return home, they uncover a larger set of crimes. A killer is claiming victims that have tragically flown under the radar. While working hard on a trail of vague clues, another young girl Mila, is also hunting down the unknown assailant. But her intentions are to avenge her friend, lost at the killer’s hands. As their paths come to an ultimate crossing point, will they find the answers they seek in time?

“You don’t ever surf trains on the high line.”

As with any mystery, dissecting the plot can is almost impossible. After all, the big pay off is that key revelation. And I have no intentions of spoiling it. But this one did work beautifully for me with only the minimal hiccups.

What worked..

  • Clear and precise navigation carried the story with incredible ease. The alternating POVs were an enhancement, in this case, adding a welcomed addition of depth. The author writes with an air of intelligence that speaks of research done and even feels familiar of real-life cases.
  • An original plot tackles relevant issues surrounding the dangers many transients face ranging from harsh environments to the more unseen, those who prey on isolated victims. It offers insight into a life many have little understanding of.
  • A fascinating approach to police procedure supplies the reader a refreshing and realistic glimpse into the struggles and challenges of tackling a difficult case and relying on a partner.
  • The atmospheric writing easily immerses the reader into the heart of the story.
  • A wonderful audio narrative from Edoardo Ballerini managed to keep me engaged and provide a steady pace.

Those small hiccups..

  • This was an initially uphill start that required a few chapters to really engage me. The connection with Stevens and Windermere took longer to establish than I would have liked. However, once it happened, I really enjoyed it.
  • The ending, while complete, felt excessively emotional and a touch overdone. But I am sure many will find gratification in it.

The end result was a worthwhile read that fostered a desire to explore this series further. Fans of crime fiction will likely find an appreciation for Laukkanen’s sophisticated and intricate style of writing that delivers a well-balanced plot and mystery.

*I would like to thank the publisher and Audiobook Jukebox for this copy. The above review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

Serves well with a nice cup of hot black tea (I favor Earl Grey) and a hint of warm milk to carry you through the descriptively cold world building.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading!

Danielle ❤

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