Category Archives: Suspense

Someone We Know – Shari Lapena

Someone We Know – Shari Lapena, Viking 2019 and I borrowed my copy from the library. A perfect place to try new authors.

This isn’t a whodunit mystery in a traditional sense, there simply aren’t enough clues for us to reasonably follow but it’s a solid character driven mystery much like her novel The Couple Next Door… but where that story focused on the police procedure and plot driven, this is more like an Unwanted Guest in that the story is strongly driven be well written and multilayered characters both suspects and those who suspect them alike.  Shari… she spends a lot of time showing means motive and opportunity to several characters in this story, each set of particulars turning and twisting but not all the pieces fit together for any of them. Sure the circumstantial evidence is there for each on spades, but when it comes down to it, is the killer someone we know?

The story starts right off with Raleigh committing a break in and roaming about a neighbor’s house. Seems this is his idea of kicks. Meanwhile a neighbor Robert has reported his wife Amanda missing. Seems the flirtatious young wife he’s simply disappeared.  That is until a chance encounter in a lake not far from town reveals her body in the trunk. As detectives Webb and Moen start making inquiries they begin to  find no lack of suspect and no lack of motives in what appears to be an insular close knit community of neighbors. Meanwhile, the questions the investigation spawn lead friends and neighbors through a series of revelations uncovering the secrets that unexpectedly bind them together.

“Parenting is so stressful, she thinks, glancing sidelong at her moody son slouched in the seat beside her. You try to do your best,  But really what control do you have over them once they’re not little anymore? You have no idea what’s going on inside their heads, or what they’re up to. What if she’d never seen that text? How long would it have gone on – until he was arrested and the cops showed up at the house? He was breaking into places, snooping through people’s lives, and they’d known nothing about it. If anyone has accused her son of such a thing, she would never believe it. That’s how little she knows him these days. But she saw those texts herself. He admitted it. She wonders uneasily if he’s keeping any other secrets. She parks the car in their driveway and says, “Raleigh, is there anything else you want to tell me?”

Origin – JA Konrath

Origin – JA Konrath published by Pinnacle Books in 2009. I read the mass produced paperback, (I don’t think there was a hard cover of this) running 341 pages.  Its not exactly a mystery, but its billed as a thriller, and though its suspenseful, most of the punches that are thrown in this yarn are fairly well telegraphed. There is a fairly predictable ending to this, but it’s a quick read and has a slight thread of humor running through it. Though most of Andy’s humor falls flat. I don’t know if that’s intentional of not as I’ve read a couple of JA Konrath’s Jack Daniels series and he’s very good at weaving humor through those stories.

This story is about a hibernating creature being held at a super-secret underground base, where the President is oddly always a quick pone call away. The base is staffed with a very small group of specialists all of whom have had some major trauma in their past. They are each on some level ‘damaged goods’. But when the creature awakens, the need for a specialist in languages brings the protagonist Andy to the facility. Andy though doesn’t seem to have any major trauma in his history, other than dodgy tax practices.

But Andy’s specialty is not as vital as it once was though since the creature, awakened, has quickly taken to and become well conversed in English and is able to be subjected to questions. Andy then focuses his talents on transcribing the capsule that contained the creature when it was discovered.

Well, best laid plans and all that, seems the creature has an agenda of its own. The nature of the beast is slowly revealed, and the bodies start piling up. Each death having something to do with the trauma from each victim’s past. As I said, you can see many of these punches coming. In the end… will any survive? Can any survive? Can you beat the devil and win?

“What’s you impression of our General Race?” Andy asked, holding open the Red Arm door.

“He’s good at manipulating people. I wonder why he’s here though. The army only has so many generals. Why stick one underground for forty years?”

“Something to do with his wife?” Andy suggested. “Dr. Belgium told me about her disease.”

“I don’t think so. She didn’t become symptomatic until a few years ago.”

“Maybe we should ask him. He seems honest. Well, as honest as the military can get. What’s Dr. Harker’s problem?”

“You noticed it too?”

“Yeah the lady seems to have a large assortment of bugs up her ass.”

Sun punched in the code for the first gate. “She has problems relating to people, I think.”

“And Dr . Belgium… don’t get me wrong. I like the guy. But he seems to be one slice short of a sandwich himself.”

“Yeah,” Sun agreed. “And the holies. Odd ducks both of them. Father Thrist’s little outburst didn’t wear well with the Roman collar.”

Andy sad, “Maybe we’re not all here because we’re perfect for the job.”

Sail – James Patterson

Sail – James Patterson and Howard Roughan Little, Brown and Company published 2008 coming in at 388 pages. I read the hardcover from the library as one of their ‘Summer Reads’ selections. Anything having to do with the beach was stacked up on that table… including Peter Benchley’s classic Jaws, a perfect summer beach read I’m sure.

This is definitely another quick page turner from James Patterson. The liberal use of white space and seriously short chapters makes what looks like a lot of pages go by a faster than expected pace. One benefit of the short chapters is that as you’re reading the story, the numerous change in points of view and different narrators flow smoothly and naturally. This is another solid story of suspense that does provide a sudden twist or two before the whole tale be told matey.

A family suffering from a recent loss sets sail on a family vacation.  With uncle Jack at the helm of the family’s craft, mom and three kids embark on a trip to the Bahamas. Family conflicts and disfunctions play out in the confinement of their physical space, but after a sudden storm at sea, and an explosion which destroys the boat, the family finds the strength to overcome the onslaught of the elements thrown against them.

But what caused the explosion?

And with a distress signal sent, where is the rescue?

And who are these shadowy figures the new step father is meeting with?

Ps. If you have a negative view of lawyers as arrogant, money minded psychopaths… well, have I got a book for you!

   We’ve all had an impossible day, but with Jake’s having to save Carrie and the boat, he is definitely our hero. The least I can do is stay up until he finishes.
   Besides, it’s a absolutely beautiful night out on the deck. So many stars. The heavens peaceful and calm. I’m reminded of my days as a churchgoer and I say a few prayers of thanks.
   Then I lean back on the cushioned bench behind the helm, wrapped warmly in a fleece blanket, my eyes tracing one constellation after another. Orion, Lyra, Cassiopeia. When I come across the Big Dipper, I can’t help a bittersweet smile, “You know, sweetheart, technically the Big Dipper is not a constellation,” my father told me over and over when I was around eight or nine. He either didn’t know he was repeating himself or was worried I’d forget. “It’s an asterism,” he’d explain, practically sounding out the word for me every time. “That means it’s only part of a lager constellation.” 

  “In a way,” he’d continue, “we’re all Big Dippers, part of something much bigger than ourselves. At least I hope that’s how you come to see yourself.”