The Drowned Girls (Angie Pallorino #1) by Loreth Anne White

This title may be purchased from Amazon.

He surfaced two years ago. Then he disappeared …

But Detective Angie Pallorino never forgot the violent rapist who left a distinctive calling card—crosses etched into the flesh of his victim’s foreheads.

When a comatose Jane Doe is found in a local cemetery, sexually assaulted, mutilated, and nearly drowned, Angie is struck by the eerie similarities to her earlier unsolved rapes. Could he be back?

Then the body of a drowned young woman floats up in the Gorge, also bearing the marks of the serial rapist, and the hunt for a predator becomes a hunt for a killer. Assigned to the joint investigative task force, Angie is more than ready to prove that she has what it takes to break into the all-male homicide division. But her private life collides with her professional ambitions when she’s introduced to her temporary partner, James Maddocks—a man she’d met the night before in an intense, anonymous encounter.

Together, Angie and Maddocks agree to put that night behind them. But as their search for the killer intensifies so does their mutual desire. And Angie’s forays into the mind of a monster shake lose some unsettling secrets about her own past . . .
How can she fight for the truth when it turns out her whole life is a lie?

Rating: A-

The Drowned Girls – the first book in Loreth Anne White’s Angie Pallorino trilogy – is a superbly plotted, intense romantic thriller which sees the heroine trying to come to terms with family problems, the recent death of her work-partner and concerns about her own mental health – all while continuing to work as a detective in the Metro Victoria PD sex crimes unit and gunning for a promotion to the elite, all-male homicide division.

Angie has always been a bit difficult to work with.  She’s hot-tempered, stubborn and doesn’t work well with others, but she’s good at her job and truly believes she makes a difference by doing what she does, putting away the sick bastards who prey (mostly) on women and young girls.  But dealing with the sorts of things she has dealt with on a daily basis for the past six years has gradually taken its toll, and even before her partner was killed a few months earlier, Angie had begun to shut down her emotions and close herself off, to become all about the job and nothing else. But since his death, and the death of the child they were working to save from her abuser, Angie has pretty much gone down the rabbit-hole; she’s in a self-destructive downward spiral, driving herself harder and harder, having to work hard to contain her aggression and fury and needing to maintain control at all times, using meaningless sex with strangers as her coping mechanism and way of blowing off steam.

When a comatose sixteen-year-old girl is found dumped at the foot of a statue of the Madonna in a local graveyard, having been brutally assaulted, mutilated and almost drowned and has the shape of a crucifix carved into her forehead, Angie is sure it’s the work of the same killer she and her partner had been trying to put away three years earlier.  There were two victims (that they knew of) both sexually assaulted and with a crucifix drawn on their foreheads with a red marker.  The further disfigurement of the latest victim would indicate that the perpetrator is escalating – and the discovery of another body bearing the same mutilations and signs of assault, this time one who has been wrapped in polythene and dumped in the river – definitely supports that theory and indicates that he is almost certainly going to strike again soon.

Sergeant James Maddocks, formerly of the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) has recently moved to the area in order to be close to his daughter, Ginny, who is a student at the University of Victoria.  His marriage broke down under the strain placed upon it by his job and while the move to the Victoria PD is a bit of a step-backwards career wise, he wants to be near Ginny and to be a better dad.  He is assigned as lead on the case of the body found in the river, and when the victim from the graveyard dies, the case turns into a double homicide.

You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.

Turn Me Loose (Alpha Ops #6) by Anne Calhoun

This title may be purchased from Amazon

When she was on the verge of adulthood, Riva Henneman committed a crime and got caught red-handed. Luckily, she was busted by a HOT young cop…who also had a big heart. A one-time SEAL candidate, Officer Ian Hawthorn knew how it felt to have your dreams derailed. So he gave Riva a choice: face prison time or work for him as a confidential informant. But even a get-out-of-jail-free card comes with a cost. . .

Years later, Ian still remembers beautiful, innocent Riva–and the smoldering attraction they shared but both tried to ignore. Will they have a second chance, now that they’re back in each other’s lives? Riva’s work with inner-city children has led to a surprise run-in with Ian, who has his own agenda–one that could put them both in grave danger. Is their desire worth the risk this time?

Rating: B+

Although Turn Me Loose is billed as the sixth book in Anne Calhoun’s Alpha Ops series, the author includes enough relevant information about previous situations and characters to make it work as a standalone, although I will admit to having re-read AAR’s review of Under the Surface in order to remind myself of a couple of things. This book turns the spotlight on Lieutenant Ian Hawthorn of the Lancaster PD, an ambitious officer with his eye on a captain’s stripes – stripes he hopes to earn by finally bringing down a large drug cartel and convicting the cops who are taking bribes and turning a blind eye to its operations. Turn Me Loose isn’t overly action-packed – there aren’t many car chases and shoot-out set-pieces – but I didn’t mind that because the story the author is telling is more character driven and that focus works well. The lack of action doesn’t mean there’s a lack of suspense, however – that comes from the protagonists’ proximity to the bad guy and the ever-present sense of danger the author creates as a result; and ultimately, I was absorbed in the story from beginning to end.

When she was just eighteen, Riva Henneman was arrested when she attempted to sell drugs to an undercover cop. Given the choice of prison or working as a confidential informant for Ian Hawthorn, Riva chose the latter, and helped him to bring a major dealer to trial. They haven’t seen each other since they parted seven years ago, and in the intervening years, Riva has turned her life around and now runs a scheme to help disadvantaged kids in the Lancaster area. She owns a small farm and a restaurant – Oasis – and is part of the growing farm-to-table movement which is dedicated to harvesting and cooking the freshest seasonal produce. She can’t believe her eyes one night when Ian Hawthorn walks in and asks for a table, his mere presence churning up feelings she’d thought dead and buried seven years ago.

Ian is equally surprised and unsettled to see Riva there, unable to believe the strength of the pull he still feels towards her after seven years. She is obviously not pleased to see him and at the end of the evening, asks him not to return, but fate has other ideas. When one of her young trainees is arrested for assisting his drug-dealing brother, Riva steps in to help secure his release by offering Ian some information she omitted to tell him when she was working for him – namely that back when he’d busted her for dealing, she had been working for her father, Rory Henneman, and that he is the man behind the pipeline of drugs flooding into Lancaster.

You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.

Fair Chance (All’s Fair #3) by Josh Lanyon

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

One final game of cat and mouse…

Ex–FBI agent Elliot Mills thought he was done with the most brutal case of his career. The Sculptor, the serial killer he spent years hunting, is finally in jail. But Elliot’s hope dies when he learns the murderer wasn’t acting alone. Now everyone is at risk once again—thanks to a madman determined to finish his partner’s gruesome mission.

I am not reprinting the rest of the book synopsis here as it contains a MASSIVE spoiler which I think would certainly have affected by reaction to the story had I been aware of it – so I’m leaving it up to potential listeners as to whether they want to look it up or not.

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B

Fair Chance is the third book in Josh Lanyon’s All’s Fair series featuring ex-FBI agent-turned history professor Elliot Mills and his partner, FBI agent Tucker Lance. I confess that I haven’t yet read or listened to either of the first two books, but because the synopsis for this indicated that the plot is related to that of book one (Fair Game), I did a bit of homework in preparation for listening to this in order to familiarise myself with the basic storyline and background, and had no trouble following along.

In Fair Game, Elliot – who was invalided out of the FBI a couple years earlier – became involved with the investigation into the disappearance of a student from Puget Sound University (where he now teaches) at the request of his father, a friend of the missing boy’s family. The disappearance turns out to be the work of a serial killer – Andrew Corian, known as the Sculptor – who, at the beginning of Fair Chance is in prison, awaiting sentence.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The Hangman (Forgotten Files #3) by Mary Burton

This title may be purchased from Amazon.

Julia Vargas is a cop with a mission. When she’s not chasing down bad guys, Julia dedicates her time to investigating the Hangman serial killer… the same unsolved case that her father, Jim Vargas, was working on when he supposedly shot and killed himself three decades before. While rumors continue to swirl around her father’s death, Julia attempts to hunt down the truth.

The case once again hits dangerously close, however, when a woman’s bones are discovered in a historic downtown home, together with a photograph of Jim and Julia as a young girl. As horrifying as this discovery is, it may just be the break Julia has waited for. Working alongside Tobias Novak, a homicide detective with whom she shares a complicated—and steamy—history, she’s forced to confront her own past even as the Hangman looms in the shadows. But as the mysterious killer circles closer, Julia can feel her own noose begin to tighten…

Rating: B+

The Hangman is the third title in Mary Burton’s Forgotten Files series of romantic suspense novels, in which the protagonists find themselves investigating ‘cold cases’, unsolved crimes dating back many years, which hold a particular significance for them. The principals in each story are different, so although some characters from the previous books appear in secondary roles, there’s no need to have read them to enjoy this one, which works perfectly well as a standalone. I have yet to read the first book, The Shark, but I thoroughly enjoyed book two, The Dollmaker, and was very impressed with the author’s ability to weave together a number of seemingly unrelated plot-threads and then to bring them together into a cleverly devised, complex whole.

We met Agent Julia Vargas of the Virginia State Police briefly in that book, and it was immediately clear that she’s one tough cookie. Her dad, Jim Vargas, was also a cop, and was a somewhat controversial figure; his undercover work brought down a number of dangerous criminals over the years, but the need to constantly be someone else took its toll on his personal life, and he committed suicide twenty-five years earlier, when Julia was just a child. Julia followed in his footsteps, becoming a cop, working undercover to bust criminal gangs and drug rings, but her most recent assignment went pear-shaped towards the end, and she suffered a vicious assault at the hands of the leader of the drug cartel she had infiltrated. Following a lengthy convalescence, Julia now works homicide alongside her partner, Dakota Sharp (hero of The Dollmaker), and has decided, during her vacation, to re-open her father’s last, unsolved case, that of the Hangman, who murdered two women back in the early 1990s, the moniker relating to the way the murders were committed and the bodies left hanging as though on display for all to see. In fact, there were those who actually suspected Jim Vargas of being the Hangman because the victims were known to him – and Julia wants to see if she can find anything in the old files that will help her to completely clear her father’s name. Or prove his guilt. She just wants the truth.

Detective Tobias Novak of the Richmond police isn’t overly happy about being dragged from the warmth of his bed –and the woman in it – to attend the scene of a fire in an old, downtown home. The body of a young woman has been found in the basement; the degree of decomposition indicates that it has been there for quite some time and the marks and injuries on what is left of the corpse indicate that this was death by homicide. Looking through the victim’s personal effects at the scene Novak is shocked to discover a photograph of Jim Vargas and his daughter (aged seven, he discovers later) in the woman’s purse. He puts in a call to Julia Vargas – the woman with whom he’d been in that warm bed – to ask her to come to the crime scene, and when she arrives, shows her the photo. Julia has absolutely no knowledge of how it could have got there, and doesn’t know the dead woman, but the discovery of her body, bearing all the hallmarks of The Hangman’s unique style, could be just the thing to kick-start her own investigations into the other unsolved killings and her father’s suicide.

Julia enlists the help of Shield Security, the high-tech security firm who had assisted Dakota Sharp in his investigations into the Dollmaker killings and part of whose remit is to assist law enforcement officers dig into cold cases using technology not previously available to uncover new evidence and unearth new leads.  But when another young woman is murdered – seemingly by the Hangman – the stakes are raised.  Is this the work of a copycat, or has the Hangman come out of retirement?  And upping the ante still more is the fact that Julia knew the victim from her last undercover operation.  The Hangman is sending Julia a message loud and clear – and she and Novak know it’s only a matter of time before the killer tries to make good on his threat.

The mystery is cleverly plotted and skilfully delivered as Julia gradually pieces together a picture of the father she had never really known while at the same time discovering the truth of his connections to the decades-ago victims of the Hangman’s crimes.  Like her dad, Julia is very self-sufficient and careful not to let anyone get too close, keeping her emotions under wraps and details about herself and her life close to her chest.  Her relationship with Novak began only recently when they hooked up after an event, and she’s keen to keep things between them strictly no-strings while it’s clear that he wants more.  I enjoyed watching their relationship progress, with Novak’s calm steadiness acting as the perfect foil to Julia’s more impulsive temperament, and eventually providing her with the safe place she needs to finally be able to drop her guard and let him in.

Novak and Julia are together throughout pretty much the entire book, and although the romance is fairly low-key, there’s an ever-present sense of attraction and awareness between them throughout.  The ending is nicely done and we leave the pair with an HFN that I fully expect to have turned into a longer term HEA by the time of the next book, which I’m hoping will feature Shield Security’s Garrett Andrews.

The Hangman is a well-paced mystery that kept me eagerly turning the pages into the early hours to see what would happen next.  Ms. Burton’s meticulous plotting provides plenty of twists and turns, and her central characters are engaging and nicely-matched.  Highly recommended for fans of the author’s and for anyone who likes a complex, solidly written mystery with a dash of romance.

The Enforcer (Games People Play #2) by HelenKay Dimon

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Security expert Matthias Clarke hunts down people who don’t want to be found. His latest prey: the sole survivor of a massacre that killed his brother years ago. Kayla Roy claimed she was a victim of the carnage. Then she disappeared. Matthias thinks Kayla may have actually been the killer—and he wants justice.

Kayla Roy never stays in one place too long and never lets a man get too close. But keeping Matthias at arm’s length may be impossible. Dark and enigmatic, Matthias draws Kayla in from the start. She knows nothing about his connection to her dark past, or his thirst for vengeance. She only knows their attraction feels overpowering—and very dangerous.

Matthias’s suspicions about the sensual Kayla clash with his instinct to protect her, especially when he realizes her life is in danger. But Kayla’s not looking for a savior—especially one who seems hell-bent on tempting her down a lethal path.

Rating: B

The Enforcer is the second book in HelenKay Dimon’s Games People Play series of romantic suspense novels, which feature heroes who supply skills and services that are perhaps not available from typical law-enforcement organisations; finding people who don’t want to be found, obtaining and using sensitive information and providing security and protection to those who are unable – or don’t want – to go through normal channels. As such, they often operate in that shady area outside the law, doing what needs to be done even though they might need to cross lines in order to do it.

In The Fixer, book one in the series, we met the enigmatic Wren, head of a company specialising in intelligence and information gathering, and who, years earlier, was one of a group of young men who looked to be headed in completely the wrong direction until they were ‘rescued’ by a man named Quint who insisted they accomplish something with their lives. In the course of his business, Wren often has occasion to call upon the services provided by Quint Enterprises, the security firm run by the gruff, taciturn Matthias Clarke. The men are friends – as far as men like them can ever be friends – and more importantly, Wren is one of the very few people that Matthias trusts absolutely.

Matthias had a troubled childhood, growing up in a series of foster homes which ranged from okay to terrible. He’s a loner, and his work is his life; he does his job, eats when he’s hungry, has sex when he has the urge – and he’s content with that. But some months earlier, and completely out of the blue, he was contacted by the birth mother who abandoned him, Mary Patterson, who also told him that he’d had a younger half-brother, Nick, who had been murdered seven years earlier and the case has never been solved. While Matthias is fully aware of Mary’s attempt to manipulate him by trying to send him on a guilt-trip, he nonetheless feels some sort of responsibility to the brother he never knew, and agrees to see what he can find out.

Seven years earlier, Kayla Roy was the sole survivor of a brutal multiple murder. She became a prime suspect in the killings in the early stages of the investigation, but in the absence of any real evidence, she was never charged. Still, she disappeared not long afterwards and has spent the last seven years on the run, never putting down roots or staying too long in any one place. Now, however, she is the closest thing to settled she’s been in all that time, in the small, seafront town of Annapolis, where she waits tables at the local café.

When a man she later describes as “the walking definition of tall, dark and smoldering” enters her café and calmly orders lunch, Kayla’s instinct is to run.  But even though she’s suspicious of his motives, there’s something oddly charming and reassuring about the guy, and she can’t deny that she finds him very attractive.

To start with, Matthias suspects that Kayla may have been responsible for the murders and is determined to secure some sort of justice for his brother.  But as the days pass and they get to know each other a little more, he revises his opinion, realising that although there is something haunting her, it’s not the guilt of a killer.

Ms. Dimon crafts an intriguing plot that unfolds at a pace that satisfies the reader’s need for forward motion while allowing time for the romance between Matthias and Kayla to develop and also for some insight into the relationships between Matthias, Wren and Garrett, Wren’s right-hand man, who has been detailed to provide help and back-up on this job.  The banter between them is fabulous; Wren and Matthias are obviously men who are naturally tight-lipped and very literal, whereas Garrett is chatty and funny, taking the opportunities afforded him to poke affectionate fun at them both.  It’s obvious though, that they’d do anything for each other, and the good-natured grousing and teasing between Garrett and Matthias especially, is a highlight of the book.

I liked the way that both Matthias and Kayla have to learn how to be part of a couple.  Kayla doesn’t do relationships given her need for privacy and her reluctance to put down roots, so she is naturally wary of the strength of the attraction she feels towards Matthias.   Like Wren in the previous book, Matthias is rather lacking in people skills; he’s blunt to the point of abrasiveness, a master of evasion when it comes to questions he doesn’t want to answer and doesn’t do small talk.  People consider him a straight shooter, and he’s proud of that; he’s good at his job and so far that’s been the most important thing in his adult life.  But with Kayla he finds he actually wants to be part of something else, although he has no idea to go about it and not being in complete control of the situation is something he finds difficult to deal with.

And he is keeping a long-buried secret of his own, one that Kayla’s situation brings to the surface in a way that eventually makes it impossible to ignore any longer. With both Matthias and Kayla somehow sensing the other is keeping secrets, their relationship is a continual push-pull as they take a step closer emotionally only for something to happen that causes them to step back.

This is the first time I’ve read a book by HelenKay Dimon, and I definitely enjoyed The Enforcer enough to want to read more of her work. The balance between thriller and romance is just about right, and while there were moments I wanted to tell Kayla, Matthias or both of them to “just talk about it already!” those moments were few and far between and their reticence does generally make sense in terms of their characters as established.  The romance is sexy and rather sweet, and the verbal back-and-forth between Matthias and Kayla is laden with wry humour and affection, with plenty of sparks flying between them.

Although this is the second book in a series, it works perfectly well as a standalone and I will definitely be looking out for future instalments.

Wildfire (Fire #3) by Anne Stuart (audiobook) – Narrated by Jill Redfield

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

Her power-hungry husband takes pleasure in her pain, but she’s done playing the victim.

Three years ago, ex-operative Sophie Jordan made the mistake of falling in love—and marrying—her target. Now she’s paying for it tenfold. Her husband might be one of the sexiest men alive, but he’s also a psychopath. She’s been a virtual prisoner, and the time has come for retribution—and escape.

Undercover agent Malcolm Gunnison has his orders: get intel from Sophie’s arms-dealer husband, then kill him. He plans to get rid of her, too, if she gets in his way, but he’s unprepared when she gets under his skin instead. Whose side is she on? And what is she hiding behind those mesmerizing eyes?

Sophie vowed to never fall for another man again, but this sexy undercover agent is different. With danger mounting, can Malcolm and Sophie trust each other—and their growing passion—enough to get out of this operation alive?

Rating: Narration – B; Content – B-

Wildfire is the third in Anne Stuart’s current Fire series of romantic suspense novels which have kind of picked up where the Ice series left off and in which The Committee – the super-secret agency which acts to wipe out the bad guys and keep the world safe by any means necessary – is now working out of its new branch in the US.

Sophie Jordan, former CIA and State Department operative, joined the Committee a few years previously and was sent on a fairly routine surveillance mission while still undergoing her training. The subject of this mission was one Archer MacDonald, a ruthless, megalomaniac arms dealer who also happened to be one of the most gorgeous men on the planet. Against every instinct and every aspect of her training, Sophie fell for Archer and married him, so blinded by love that she didn’t discover his true nature until some months after the wedding. Three years on, Sophie has spent most of that time as a prisoner on an island off the coast of Florida that Archer owns – Isla Mordita – two of those years confined to her bed and a wheelchair following an “accident” which saw her shot in the back.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals

The Perfect Stranger (All the Missing Girls #2) by Megan Miranda

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

Rating: B

Megan Miranda’s The Perfect Stranger is billed as being a sequel to her highly successful All The Missing Girls – although as far as I can tell, there are no common characters or plot threads, unless one counts the fact that one of the characters in The Perfect Stranger is a “missing girl”! So if, like me, you haven’t read the earlier book, you won’t have any problems getting into this one, as it’s a standalone, and is a thoroughly enjoyable and intriguing read that asks some interesting questions. How well we can ever know another person? How honest and accurate are our self-perceptions? Just how far would you go for a friend who’d done a lot for you?

Leah Stevens worked as a journalist in Boston until a story blew up in her face. She had been investigating the deaths – seemingly suicides – of four young college students which she was convinced were murders, but when she refused to reveal a key source, she was slapped with a restraining order and the paper threatened with a lawsuit. Betrayed – it was her boyfriend who tipped off their editor – with no job and nowhere to go, Leah is relieved when she runs into Emmy Grey, someone she’d lived with shortly after leaving college some eight years ago.

Over several drinks at Emmy’s place, Leah gathers that her friend has just come out of a bad relationship and is keen to get out of Boston, too, so they stick a pin in a map and settle on Western Pennsylvania as the place they can both make a fresh start. Leah gets a job as a school teacher (and I have to say, the author’s comments about various aspects of the profession struck a real chord with me!) while Emmy drifts about, cleaning houses, working at a local motel… and because their schedules are so different, with Emmy often coming home as Leah is going out, they rarely see each other. Even so, Leah gets the impression that all is not well with her friend; she’s tense and on edge and it’s like she’s waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Because their schedules are so different, it takes Leah a few days to realise that Emmy hasn’t been home for some time.  The post-it notes stuck on the wall reminding her the rent is due and various phone messages from Emmy’s boyfriend  have fallen down rather than been removed, and Leah begins to worry for her friend’s safety.  But if she files a missing persons’ report, it will lead to questions about Leah’s own situation, and those are questions she is not willing to answer. When a young woman who bears a striking resemblance to her is attacked on the other side of the lake from where Leah lives and a fellow member of staff at the school is the prime suspect, she is forced to accept that she can no longer distance herself and fly under the radar if she is to find out what happened to her friend.

Leah opens up to Kyle Donovan, the handsome young detective assigned to the assault case, telling him about Emmy and her fear that something has happened to her.  But as the investigation proceeds it becomes apparent that even though Leah had believed herself to be very close to Emmy, she really didn’t know her at all, and worse, the police are starting to believe that she doesn’t actually exist.  Leah knows that once her past is revealed, and it’s known that she is suspected of having invented a source, that belief is only going to be reinforced; yet Leah can’t give up.  She’s got to prove that Emmy is real and then find out what has happened to her in order to prove her credibility and clear her own name.  And in doing so, she starts to question her own long-held certainties about herself, her drive to seek the truth, her belief in her ability to read people and get them to open up to her… and to realise that she has been a victim of her own hubris.

Megan Miranda does a terrific job in this book of creating and maintaining an atmosphere of menace and uncertainty.  She skilfully drip-feeds the truth about Leah’s situation, hinting at what she’s running from and slowly fitting the pieces of the puzzle together – although it’s not until well into the story that we finally discover the nature of the terrifying events that set her on the path she’s now travelling.  And there’s also the fact that Leah is somewhat of an unreliable narrator, something the author plays with so cleverly that there are times the reader even questions the fact of Emmy’s existence, wondering if the police are right and she’s just a figment of Leah’s obviously active imagination.

On the negative side, however, there are times when there is perhaps just a little too much going on, there are a few plot-threads that are not suitably resolved, and a couple of large inconsistencies that really had me scratching my head – and not in a good way. The mystery is full of satisfying twists and turns, with a few suitably gobsmacking moments of realisation along the way, but the ending is somewhat anticlimactic.  Things end well for Leah and Kyle, but it’s all a little low-key, so while I was pleased that everything was nicely tied up, I’d expected something a little… well, more.

With all that said, however, I enjoyed The Perfect Stranger enough to recommend it to fans of strongly written, atmospheric mysteries.  It caught my interest early and kept me turning the pages, so I’m definitely interested in reading more by this author.