Lisa Black — That Darkness

Maggie Gardiner, forensic scientist with Cleveland police, sees a connection between three recent homicides. Jack Renner is a Cleveland police detective working on the same crimes. But Jack is also a killer—a vigilante. Some of the dead are his victims. This makes an interesting plot, with Maggie putting together clues and Jack trying to mislead her.

I enjoyed the book—the characters, the plot, the police work, and the different ending. It kept me reading into the wee small hours.

J.T. Ellison — Lie to Me

This is the story of a marriage falling apart. Sutton and Ethan Montclair are both writers who claim to love each other, but they don’t trust each other. Their lives are full of hidden secrets and lies. Both writing careers are in trouble and their infant son dies of SIDS. Then Sutton disappears. The police think Ethan has murdered her, except Holly Graham who is lead in the case.

The plot twists and turns, and we know from the beginning that there is some female villain who is manipulating things, but we don’t know who or why.

This was a good read. The story kept my interest. But I wasn’t thrilled with the characters. Both husband and wife are very self-centered. Sutton has hidden secrets about her life before meeting Ethan. She runs away from her life. Ethan tries to drink away his troubles, many times more worried about himself than his missing wife. The reader should like or identify with in some way the protagonists. I couldn’t dredge up much sympathy for either Sutton or Ethan, even though a very evil person was destroying their lives. I liked Holly Graham, but she was not the main character.

I did read the whole book, which I won’t do if it doesn’t grab me in some way.

John Grisham — Camino Island

Five rare, handwritten manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald are stolen from the Princeton University Library. The insurance company that has insured the manuscripts for twenty-five million believes they are now in the hands of bookseller Bruce Cable on Camino Island, Florida. They hire Mercer Mann to spend the summer on the island and infiltrate the writer’s community and hopefully learn more about Cable and the manuscripts. Mercer is three years past due on a promised second novel and has been laid off from her teaching job with piles of student debt. She has part ownership of a cottage on Camino Island, which belonged to her late Aunt Emma. The job is a perfect fit.

I haven’t read a Grisham novel in a few years, so maybe I don’t remember how he writes, but Camino Island felt off his beaten path to me. Maybe I’ll have to re-read one of his earlier books to see if I remember correctly. First, it’s not a legal novel; second, it’s a slow-paced, relaxed, summer-vacation story (not a lot of tension or action); third, it has more “tell” than “show,” with several chapters that seem more like back-story than story. Despite all that, I did read the whole book and enjoyed it.

Here’s where my content editing got in my way and almost kept me from continuing reading:

Chapter One, 37 pages, tells us about the heist of the manuscripts. The details of how it was accomplished are interesting, but it’s almost all “tell” and could be eliminated or shortened, maybe even incorporated elsewhere in the book.
Chapter Two, 21 pages, is a character sketch of Bruce Cable. This chapter is covered in other ways in the rest of the novel. It could definitely disappear.

You could start the book at Chapter Three, page 59, and not miss anything except possibly the details of the theft.

This review sounds very critical, but I did enjoy the read. I guess that gives credit to the author’s writing. And I liked the way it ended.