I suspected from the beginning that a piece of information about Hayley Chill is missing from the story due to a year’s gap between her leaving the army and her internship at the White House. The reveal of how she ends up as an intern at the end of the book also creates some inconsistencies in the plot. We have Hayley discovering an assassination plot during her time at the White House, but we find out that she knew about it before she started the job.
Even with stiff character portrayals plus holes and unnecessary sidetracks in the plot (Who cares about the future of minor characters?), I enjoyed the story and would read another Hauty novel.
A middle-of-the-road crime novel.
The good parts:
- An unusual murder—a man roasted to death and dumped in the middle of the street in front of a Thai shrine.
- New detective Jarsdel and old-timer Morales building a partner relationship.
- A clearer picture of LA than most LA novels I’ve read lately (but I’m getting bored with LA).
- An interesting secondary plot about someone killing pet dogs. (But why are the detectives on this case?)
- An unusual detective—Tully Jarsdel has left academia to become a cop.
The not so good parts:
- Jarsdel spends way too much time explaining and thinking about why he left his previous life to join the LAPD—repetitive.
- Jarsdel’s unsympathetic two dads, who hate that he became a policeman—not an ounce of understanding.
- The whiny girlfriend.
- Not very good motives for the murderer or the dog killer.
- Jarsdel’s “save the world” attitude.
- The book could probably have been 100 pages shorter, leaving out some of the repetitive information, descriptions about driving routes, Jarsdel’s brooding about his life, etc.
Overall I enjoyed the story enough to keep reading to the end. I might read more of the series.
A well-researched pandemic novel. Reading the book, I learned a lot—interesting facts and history about viruses and epidemics—more than I wanted in a thriller. It felt almost like nonfiction. There were side trips that didn’t add to the story, such as the chapter about Henry’s family camping trip. Maybe the author was trying to give us a break from the science and political unrest.
This was a timely release, during the COVID-19 epidemic. Written before this disease cropped up, it’s surprising how much prediction was correct, but thankfully, our current crisis isn’t nearly as bad as the one in this story, and the world hasn’t responded in quite such a negative way.
Why is it that every book I read lately has an alcoholic protagonist? The characters in this book are defined well, but I was aggravated by PI Roxane Weary and her drinking, which led her into trouble. She jumped to conclusions, made stupid decisions, and treated everyone around her with anger and disdain—even friends and family. The story was good, but could have been written without an unlikable main character.
Oregon’s Willamette River is such a strong presence in this
novel that it almost becomes the main character. Sheriff’s Deputy Delia Chavez
is obsessed with fear of the river, which took her baby brother away from her
when she was five years old. But murders are happening on the river, and she
has to deal with it to solve them.
As a character, Delia is messed up and angry, but I liked
her. The author does a good job of giving insights into both good and bad
actors in the story. A good plot kept my attention through to the end.
I almost abandoned this novel after the first few chapters
because it bounced around too much in time and POV. First there was part of a
trial (2005), then a murder scene (2001), a scene with Cathie, the protagonist,
at work (2007), Catherine, an earlier version of Cathie, out drinking with
friends (2003), and finally it gets into the rhythm of skipping back and forth
between 2007 and 2003. At this point, I started to get hooked.
The personalities of Cathie and Catherine are entirely
different. Catherine (2003) loves to party, drinks too much, sleeps around.
Cathie (2007) suffers from severe OCD and PTSD. Catherine hooks up with sexy,
mysterious Lee, who becomes more and more controlling and abusive. Cathie starts
a cautious friendship with her neighbor Stuart, a psychologist who is
unbelievably understanding of her weird behavior.
There is no mystery. The trial at the beginning tells us
that Lee is the bad guy in the story. It’s obvious that Catherine and Cathie are
the same person. It’s also fairly obvious that Lee probably murdered the woman at
the beginning of the story (2001). At first, I thought the trial (2005) was for
But this is a well-written psychological suspense/thriller.
It kept me reading throughout to find out what happens next. Haynes follows
Catherine/Cathie’s personality changes in detail—Catherine’s downhill slide as
her relationship with Lee becomes more controlling and abusive, and Cathie’s
climb back to normality as she struggles to overcome her anxiety and OCD.
I would recommend the book to anyone who likes dark stories.
The author takes us into Riversend, a small dying settlement
in Australia’s interior, in the middle of a summer drought. The river running
through the town has dried into cracked earth. You can feel the heat and see it
rising off the baked land.
A priest shot five men in front of the church and was killed
by the local policeman. Martin Scarsden’s editor at the newspaper sends him to
visit Riversend a year after the shooting to write a piece about how the locals
are coping with the tragedy. At first, Martin is a typical newsman interviewing
residents—outside looking in. The town is full of secrets and rumors, which
cause Martin to write articles for his paper with incorrect facts, gaining
enemies. As he gets to know them, people ask why a priest that many admired and
loved did such a terrible act. Martin’s curiosity and desire to find the truth
have him looking for the answer. This is the central question in the story.
Hammer’s characters are varied and complicated, not always
who or what they appear to be at first meeting. He even gives us insight into
the dead priest.
The plot is complicated, with many twists and turns. It kept my interest from beginning to end.
Here and Gone kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the
whole book. What would you do if a sheriff in the middle of nowhere pulled you
over with a trumped-up charge and took your children away? Then he claims there
were no children in your car. No one believes you—state police, FBI, media all
think you have killed your children.
Unlike many of today’s thrillers that are filled with
violence and farfetched scenarios, this is an intense, believable psychological
Seven teenagers go camping and only six return. A massive search
doesn’t turn up Aurora, at fourteen, the youngest of the group. Thirty years
later, her body is found in a hollow
beneath a tree along with remnants of a stash of drugs.
The timeline alternates
between current and the night of the murder. Point-of-view shifts
between cops and campers, both present and thirty years prior. The author does
a good job of switching time and POV, and I didn’t find it confusing.
Lodge paints good pictures of each of her many characters—four
police and the six campers (seven with Aurora)—each character unique. She even
adds a couple of extras into the mix. It may be a little overload on character
She keeps us guessing about the murderer, but I did have an
idea of who it was early in the story. The plot could be a little slow for some
readers, but I found the details of police procedural interesting.
A good first novel. I look forward to the next book in the
series with DCI Jonah Sheens.
The story follows a growing friendship between two women—Lexie, an FBI agent on her first undercover assignment, and Savannah, a young, naïve animal-rights activist. As the tagline on the back cover says, “You build relationships to betray relationships.” But is Lexie ready to betray her newfound friend to her bosses at the FBI?
Amazon lists this novel as a (Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > Cozy > Animals), but there is no mystery to solve and it doesn’t even come close to what I consider a cozy. Thriller & suspense—maybe. More of a crime novel. It’s also listed a women’s fiction, which is probably closer. Not that it matters; it was a good read.