Tag Archive: serial killers


of monsters and madnessOf Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Expected Publication: September 9th, 2014 by EgmontUSA

Pre-Order this book at: Amazon / B&N / Books a Million / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

A romantic, historical retelling of classic Gothic horror featuring Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee, from a New York Times best-selling author.

Summoned to her father’s home in 1820’s Philadelphia, a girl finds herself in the midst of a rash of gruesome murders in which he might be implicated. She is torn romantically between her father’s assistants-one kind and proper, one mysterious and brooding-who share a dark secret and may have more to do with the violent events than they’re letting on.

 

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you EgmontUSA!

 

This book left me feeling very lukewarm. And a bit confused. But let me explain….

When I first read the synopsis of this book, I was intrigued. I am a Poe fan, but I wouldn’t call myself a purist. I was promised a “historical retelling of Gothic horror.” I got a lot of gothic, not a lot of horror. And not exactly a retelling of Poe, unless you count random snippets from his works and a story about how he was inspired. I quickly discovered just what kind of retelling we were dealing with…and frankly it would be obvious to anyone with a brain.

The setting of this novel was exactly what I expected. A dark, dank, gothic Philadelphia complete with thunderstorms to set this mood. I loved this way more than I should have. I was all set for a horrific tale of Edgar Allen Poe! That was not exactly what I ended up with.

Annabel was not a bad character, she was just boring. She was infinitely nice and sweet. But that was about all of the substance that she had. She should have been amazing. She had an interest in medicine, she has scars that she is not entirely clear what they are from, she is living in a new country far from home. How did she end up so unbearably dull?

Apart from that, not much happened. And I do mean that literally. There is a serial killer, and we quickly learn who that is. There are murders but there’s really only one or two “graphic” scenes and they really weren’t that good. I got much bigger heebiejeebies from scenes in Unwind or The Madman’s Daughter. This just paled in comparison.

Now for my biggest issue with this book, the ending. Actually I don’t even think I can call it an ending. It was just starting to get exciting! We were approaching the pinnacle of the plot! The climax of the story! And then I was at the last page….I don’t even understand it. What happened to the second half of the story? After the climax there is supposed to be a resolution! I was denied a resolution! Why was I denied a resolution!?

On a side note, kimonos don’t come from Thailand, two seconds on Google told me that. Also  Annabel kept describing her kimono in ways that made me think of a shawl that wrapped around her shoulders, so I am not even sure it was a kimono.

Overall I enjoyed the story, though it was a little dull. And I was set to give it four stars, but then the ending happened and I just can’t forgive that. Still enjoyable but the ending left me feeling cold.

night harvest Night Harvest by Michael Alexiades

Published September 26th, 2013 by Turner Publishing

Buy this book at: B&N / Amazon / Book Depository / Books a Million

 

Synopsis:

A riveting debut thriller from one of New York’s most eminent surgeons, Night Harvest follows the bizarre disappearance of patients from a Manhattan hospital into the murky underground of the city.

Fourth-year medical student Demetri Makropolis has been assigned to cover orthopedics at Eastside Medical Center, one of New York City’s finest hospitals. Just as his surgery team begins to operate on New York’s leading drama critic, F. J. Pervis III, the patient suddenly goes into cardiac arrest. The team fails to resuscitate him, so the corpse is moved to the hospital’s morgue. But before the autopsy is even performed, the body vanishes from the morgue and mysteriously reappears a day later—with the brain surgically removed. Even more disturbing is the medical examiner’s discovery: Pervis was still alive when the ghostly craniotomy was performed.

With their reputation at stake, the hospital assigns NYPD’s Detective Patrick McManus to the case; meanwhile, Demetri learns of an eerily similar century-old unsolved mystery that leads him to an enigmatic figure lurking in the bowels of the medical center. With Pervis as his experiment, the perpetrator initiates a chain reaction of chaos and murder in Manhattan.

A gripping tale filled with ambition, romance, jealousies, and black humor, Night Harvest is a thrilling ride that culminates in the long-abandoned elaborate network of subterranean rooms and corridors that still lie beneath present-day Manhattan.

 

Rating: 2 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Turner! Past this point this review contains spoilers.

 

This book was kind of boring. The idea was that this medical student gets involved in the plot of a serial killer when a local celebrity dies on the operating table only to have his body go missing. Then later they find out he wasn’t dead at all and was killed later. Other people go missing, medical student plays detective and we all know how it proceeds from there. I wouldn’t really call this one predictable, because it was just so random. But, I present you the pros and cons of this book.

Pros:

Writing – The writing is not bad. It is adequate for a story of this type, although I felt like it tended to ramble a little too much without really going anywhere. But largely I have no complaints about the writing, it accomplished what it needed to accomplish.

Characters – Again, no complaints but nothing truly spectacular. The characters were decent and not too cookie cutter like. I did really like Demetri and McManus, I would have preferred that the POV was strictly kept between the two of them. The other characters I didn’t really care much about either good or bad. They were just set pieces for the greater story.

 

Cons:

The Bad Guy – This was just weird. He kills because he has found the secret to immortality, but then he alternately kills other people and rapes them just because. He seemingly has no preference for male or female victims to rape, not even seems to care if they are alive or not at the time. This is so out of synch with everything that makes a sexual predator what they are, they have very specific preferences. It just, I don’t know. Oh yeah and did I mention that he is supposedly like 100 years old? Weird.

POV Jumping – We spent time with at least 6-7 different characters and we seemed to jump between them every 2-3 pages. It was so confusing. I still don’t think I know who half of the characters are and how they related to the story. And it seemed like the author wanted to give every character a back story, so it is just a long line of one page of plot and one page of backstory then on to a new character. I found that I learned absolutely nothing about any of the characters as a result.

Plot – Meandering and aimless. I wasn’t sure what the actual point was except to just set us up for a sequel at the very end. Nothing really was accomplished. And I found that I cared less than I should.

Overall it was not a bad book but it was not very well executed. It needed a lot more work before being put on the market to really tighten up the story and characters. So I would rate it as slightly less than average.

Lost Souls by Lisa Jackson

lost soulsLost Souls by Lisa Jackson

Published March 25th, 2008 by Kensington

Buy this book at: Books a Million / Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

Kristi Bentz wants to write true crime. All she needs is that one case that will take her to the top. She finds it when she enrolls at All Saints College after learning that four girls have disappeared in less than two years.

All four girls were “lost souls”–troubled, vulnerable girls with no one to care about them, no one to come looking for them if they disappeared. The only person that believes Kristi is her ex-lover, Jay McKnight, a professor on campus. The police think they’re runaways, but Kristi senses there’s something that links them–something terrifying. . .

As Kristi gets deeper into her investigation, she gets the feeling she’s being watched and followed–studied, even. Then the bodies start turning up, and Kristi realizes she is playing a game with a killer who has selected her for membership in a special club from which there will be no escaping death.

 

Rating: 1 star

 

Review:

Lisa Jackson, what is happening with you? You’ve made me sad, very sad.  I have been a fan of this series, and another of hers too, from the first book.  The last book in this series disappointed me but it still had a few strong points.  This book not only was disappointing, there were no strong points.  Every sentence of this book reminded me of every other book in the series so far.  And Kristi just irritated the living hell out of me.  However, I am getting ahead of myself.

Let’s address Kristi first.  In the beginning I liked Kristi quite a bit.  She was intelligent, sassy, street savvy, and one of the better characters in my opinion.  But somewhere along the way Kristi lost her brain.  It might have fallen out her ear when she was abducted by a serial killer in the last book.  I’m just not sure what happened.  First, she seems to have trouble remembering whether she likes her stepmother or not.  In one paragraph she says that she likes her and just a page later she says that they don’t really get along too well.  Well, which is it?  Then she moves and becomes obsessed with missing girls at her college.  Gee, that sounds smart!  Next thing you know, she’s running around doing all those TSTL things that make me despise so many YA heroines.  For the record ladies, it is NEVER a good idea to walk home in the dark when you know someone is watching you just because you’re too stubborn to let your ex drive you home.  Things like that made her really get on my nerves.  Also ignoring her instincts.  Her instincts are excellent for sensing trouble, unfortunately she’s too stupid to listen to them.   She actively recognizes that her instincts are correct and then disregards them.

The plot has been done so many times in this series.  Kristi must have a serial killer attractant tattooed on her ass, because she seems to be the perfect victim type for every serial killer on the planet.  Which brings me to another plot point.  The actual whodunnit was not that great of a reveal.  One part of it was painfully obvious, to the point where the characters were making observations about how obvious it was.  The other two were so obscure that not a single clue was given through the entire book over who it was.  But in the end there was nothing about the plot that was different or new and exciting.  It was just like all the other books in the series except more boring.

One last annoyance, isn’t this series about Bentz and Montoya?  We hardly saw either of them at all.  Kristi should never have been a main part of this series because she just isn’t interesting enough.  All the good people got taken out and the book suffered for it.

the restorerThe Restorer by Amanda Stevens

Published: April 19th, 2011 by MIRA

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Books A Million / Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

My name is Amelia Gray. I’m a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. In order to protect myself from the parasitic nature of the dead, I’ve always held fast to the rules passed down from my father. But now a haunted police detective has entered my world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept me safe.
It started with the discovery of a young woman’s brutalized body in an old Charleston graveyard I’ve been hired to restore. The clues to the killer–and to his other victims–lie in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret. Devlin needs my help, but his ghosts shadow his every move, feeding off his warmth, sustaining their presence with his energy. To warn him would be to invite them into my life. I’ve vowed to keep my distance, but the pull of his magnetism grows ever stronger even as the symbols lead me closer to the killer and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.

 

Rating: 2 star

 

Review:

Every time I pick up a book lately my only thought is “Please God don’t let this suck!  All I seem to do is leave bad reviews!”  I had such high hopes that this might be the one to break the streak.  First, it has an orgasm worthy cover.  I could stare at this cover for hours and not even blink once, it’s just that gorgeous.  The synopsis just about made me faint in ecstasy.  It sounds EXACTLY up my alley!  This book excited me, it intrigued me, and ultimately it disappointed me.

My biggest sticking point with this book was that Amelia is SO DAMN BORING!  You can’t even call her a Mary Sue because she manages to screw up everything she does and doesn’t have anyone falling at her feet and begging her to be theirs.  Amelia is supposed to ignore the ghosts…why?  Well we get a vague answer about haunted people being drained of life force but honestly it’s never entirely explained how people become haunted because most haunted people can’t even see the ghosts.  So, *headscratch* try and figure that one out!  Then Amelia has the most boring job on the face of the earth.  She spends hours cleaning tombstones with brushes and doing….other restoration thingys that never get explained.  As if this wasn’t boring enough, she is asked to assist on a murder investigation and then does NOTHING.  No, I literally meant nothing.  She stands around and eavesdrops on other people and then asks a few stupid questions and then stands around some more.  Then, for the cherry on top, let’s throw in her obsession with Devlin.  It’s actually really creepy.  She turns into a complete stalker.  She tracks down information about his dead wife and child behind his back for fuck’s sake!!  I just can’t even begin to describe how much of a line crossing that was.

The murder mystery of this book couldn’t even hope to overcome how boring everything else was.  Frankly, I don’t even remember how it got resolved because I was very nearly in a coma by then.  I couldn’t even get enough passion about this to one star it and tear it apart.  I give it two stars because the cover still rocks, the rest is useless.  If you need a cure for insomnia, give it a shot!

the seventh victimThe Seventh Victim by Mary Burton

Published January 29, 2013 by Kensington Books

Synopsis and cover image provided by the publisher.

 

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Amazon/ B&N

 

Synopsis:

If At First You Don’t Succeed

It’s been seven years since the Seattle Strangler terrorized the city. His victims were all young, pretty, their lifeless bodies found wrapped in a home-sewn white dress. But there was one who miraculously escaped death, just before the Strangler disappeared…

Kill

Lara Church has only hazy memories of her long-ago attack. What she does have is a home in Austin, a job, and a chance at a normal life at last. Then Texas Ranger James Beck arrives on her doorstep with shattering news: The Strangler is back. And this time, he’s in Austin…

And Kill Again…

He’s always craved her, even as he killed the others. For so long he’s been waiting to unleash the beast within. And this time, he’ll prove he holds her life in his hands—right before he ends it forever…

 

Rating: 2 star

 

Review:

Let me tell you a little story about this book.  I accidentally requested to get an ARC.  I thought that the author was a different author whom I have read and enjoyed before and I jumped out of my chair in joy at thinking she had a new book.  After I realized that I was mistaken about who the author was, I ended up not caring too much because the story still sounded really fantastic.  Oh, how I was wrong!  Despite having an excellent cover and an astounding synopsis, this book was just a mess.  I bring you, bullet points!

  • Predictable plot is predictable.  By the second or third time we have the killer introduced into a scene, I knew who it was.  It was so painfully obvious that it was…well painful.  Also, by about the halfway point I had figured out what the twist was and by 70% I knew who the twist would revolve around.  I don’t know whether to credit my obsession with the TV show Criminal Minds for this or maybe the plot was just that obvious and unimaginative.
  • Stubborn heroine who insists on protecting herself but seems to be incapable of doing so.  Every time we talked to Lara she was insisting that she could take care of herself, but them proceeds to do completely idiotic things that seem to suggest otherwise.  For example, going to a recent crime scene when it is nearly dark outside…by yourself…with just a camera…and a shotgun (that she left in a locked car).  I mean, what good is a shotgun going to do you if it’s locked in your car 20 yards away?  I’m pretty sure an assailant isn’t going to allow you to run 20 yards to the car, unlock the car, get the shotgun, load the shotgun, and then shoot him.  She has a darkroom and leaves it unlocked while she is in there with her back to the door and in the dark.  And then she ignores her dog when he starts barking at something from outside.  Gee, that sounds smart!  And don’t get your hopes up that the other female characters are any smarter, they aren’t.  One notable moment is when one girl gets a flat tire, on an abandoned road at night, without cell phone service, hasn’t seen another sign of human life in at least a half hour, but is ever so grateful at the person who has been following her the whole time for offering his help!  I sincerely hope that there are not that many stupid women in the world.
  • Cops who are either oblivious or inept.  Anyone who has watched Law & Order knows that when a person is attacked, most of the time the attacker is someone they know.  Yet, these cops mostly seem to sit around wondering which unknown stranger it could be without even bothering to look at people close to Lara.  Their justification is, well it’s a serial killer so he probably doesn’t know the victims.  That doesn’t hold water either.  Criminal Minds has taught me that serial killers have their distinct signatures because the actions satisfy some need or fantasy they have.  If a serial killer does not rape his victims and then suddenly a similar crime appears with a rape, it’s not the same guy.  If a serial killer is going after prostitutes and homeless woman, and suddenly it’s a young blonde college student who was a big risk then it’s not the same guy!  But all of this is overlooked too, despite the claim that a FBI profiler was advising them. Really?  He must be inept too!
  • Lame romance.  It was very cliche for the head cop to fall for Lara.  And I just didn’t feel it.  I knew that they had feelings for each other because the author told me they did, but that’s the only reason.  Their actual actions and words didn’t lead me to that conclusion at all.  Then they decide to have sex after the most traumatic and violent scene in the whole book?  What?  Nearly getting killed is an aphrodisiac for Lara?  Yeah that was weird and made me feel like I needed a shower with bleach.  Oh and let’s throw in another cliche, simultaneous orgasms.  Has this honestly ever happened to anyone in real life?  It’s never happened to me!  The sex scene made me laugh though.  In one paragraph Lara removed his pants and then on the next page she was undoing the button on his pants…when did he put them back on? *snicker*
  • Name a cliche, any cliche!  Any cliche you can think of for a murder mystery/suspense/thriller and this book probably had it.  Surviving victim becomes the obsession of the killer.  Obsessed cop who couldn’t let this case go and is now sticking his nose into the current case.  Lead cop falling for the poor surviving victim.  Female characters with no sense of self preservation.  The miraculous “ah ha!” moment that answers all of the questions surrounding the case just pages before the end.  The police miraculously bursting in the door just in time to save the poor female victim with a few well placed bullets that never miss.  I could name more but I think you get the idea.
  • Suspense?  Where?  This was supposedly a suspense novel, but I never once felt that rush in my veins that suspense novels usually give me.  Mostly I just got bored.  I started mentally counting cliches in my head and coming up with a scorecard for how well I predicted the book’s plot.  There was no suspense, I knew exactly what would happen chapters before it actually happened.

So, there we have it.  If you want to read a serial killer novel that is exactly like thousands of other serial killer novels then this is a book for you.  If you’ve never read a serial killer novel then this is perfect since you won’t have a clue about how cliche it is!  But otherwise, give this one a pass unless you’re suffering from insomnia…because then it might help.

I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you Kensington books!  This review is based on an uncorrected ARC of this book, certain things may differ from the final copy.

Review: Red Island by Lorne Oliver

Red IslandRed Island by Lorne Oliver

Published May 23rd, 2012 by the author

Synopsis and cover image from the Goodreads book page

Buy this book at Smashwords / B&N / Amazon

Synopsis:

Was it the nightmare that woke him or the late night phone ringing that brought on the dream? Sgt. Reid of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police brought his family to Prince Edward Island, “The Gentle Island,” to get away from crime and homicides. He had to get away from the nightmares and concentrate on his family. PEI is a lovely place to live. The sound of the ocean crashing against sandy beaches, sand dunes covered in tufts of dancing green grass…

…And then there was the young woman hanging from a tree. It wasn’t a gentle island any more.

Rating (out of 5): 3 star

Review:

***WARNING: This review may contain spoilers, stop reading now if you wish to remain unspoiled.***

This book is a hard one for me to put my finger on and say I liked it or I didn’t like it.  In the end, I really liked some of it and I really didn’t like some of it.  I liked the story, it was decent and well constructed.  I really disliked Sgt. Reid, he annoyed me on nearly every page.  And I absolutely loved Ben the serial killer, he was the shining star of this entire book!

Let’s begin with the story.  Like I said, it was decent and well constructed.  Sgt. Reid is still recovering from an emotional case involving young girls being murdered and brings his family to Prince Edward Island, where things like that just don’t happen.  But no sooner does he get there then that kind of thing starts to happen.  Bodies of young women are turning up, proudly displayed in public, and Reid must face everything all over again.  I thought that things progressed at a fairly good pace as far as the progression of the killings went.  It was logical and made a lot of sense.  All that was good.  But I really didn’t like the police work in this.  I give the author big props for doing so much research into police procedure and keeping it so real to life.  However, there is a big reason that TV shows and movies make police work so fantastical…it makes it interesting.  Reading scene after scene of the police scratching their heads and going “I dunno what to do?  What should we do?  Wait for another killing?  Go talk to more people?  I dunno.”, might be true to life but it’s also not very interesting.  I was sitting there screaming, “SHE SAID HE WAS A PHOTOGRAPHER!!!  YOU ALREADY TALKED TO HIM AND HE TOLD YOU THAT!!!  WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU!!!??”  Maybe it was because Reid was too focused on his partner’s ass..ets, but more on that in a minute.  I was mildly perturbed about knowing the name and identity of the serial killer right off the bat, but since his scenes were so good I stopped caring at all.

Now let’s talk about Reid, and yes I have to call him Reid because we never learn his first name.  At first that was kind of amusing as people guessed and never got told, but it got old fast.  And when it was used as a cliffhanger at the end, I was just over it.  The woman says, “Do me a favor, tell me your first name.”, end of book.  I didn’t care anymore at that point, it wasn’t amusing anymore, so I didn’t mind that I don’t know his name.  I also firmly believe that Reid has a medical condition.  This man has the most tingly, twitchy groin that I have ever heard of.  Sees the dead mangled body of a girl, he thinks about her nice body and tingly groin!  Sees his partner walking around, twitchy groin!  Looks at pictures of the murdered girls before they died, tingly groin!!  Looks at a butterfly, twitchy groin!  About the only time there is no tingly, twitchy groin is when he’s with his wife.  I think he should see a doctor, he has a serious problem.  I also think Reid couldn’t solve the murders faster because his every single thought is about cheating on his wife.  The wife who is at home, calling to make sure he was safe and had dinner while you working his case, that controlling dirtbag!  She didn’t do a single thing except love him and support him and he’s thinking about screwing around on her constantly.  Even at crime scenes and during interviews.  No wonder you couldn’t find the killer bud, you were too busy thinking about your twitchy groin than the case.  Needless to say, I despised Reid very much.

So far all of this is mixed, liked some and hated some, but then we get to Ben the serial killer.  If this book had been Ben only, it would have been five stars all the way.  I loved watching him as a young boy killing small animals, to progressing and refining his skills as a rapist and then finally as a killer.  The look into this psychopath’s mind was fascinating and I loved every page of it. I never did quite figure out why Ben decided to taunt Reid which ultimately got him caught though.  Until then, the cops had figured out nothing and were waiting for him to tell them how to catch him.  If he hadn’t done that he could have gone on forever because they cops had nothing that he didn’t hand them.  I think this was supposed to be part of Ben’s de-evolution and descent into madness.  But it didn’t feel totally genuine to me.  He’d been completely stable until that point and then just jumped off the deep end.  I still liked it, but it felt rushed.  At the end of this book I have to take what I hated and take what I loved and I come away with one conclusion:  It was good and I would choose to read it again if given the chance, but I probably won’t reread it now that I have already done so once.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.  Thanks to the author for providing this book!