Review: What She Knew by Regan Black

what she knewTitle: What She Knew

Author: Regan Black

Year of publication: Out today! The author kindly gave me a copy to read and review

The blurb: Dr. Luciana Perez thought she hit the jackpot when she landed the position at the Shutter Lake Medical Clinic. Until her friend Sylvia Cole is murdered and the authorities come calling, certain that Luciana has more information about the crime.

But Luciana only knows Sylvia had secrets she wasn’t inclined to share. Secrets that had Sylvia seriously worried. Secrets someone was willing to kill to keep buried. Every day that the killer isn’t found, Luciana’s fear tightens like a noose around her neck: fear of her own secrets being exposed, fear of becoming the next victim, and fear that the murderer will irrevocably shatter the idyllic peace and security of their beautiful town.

Standalone or series: This is the fourth and final book in this mini-series, each one written by a different author. You will need to read all four in order, as together they form one big book.

The review: What She Knew is the fourth and final instalment in the Breakdown suspense mini-series, and we finally get answers to all the questions built up over the other three books – who killed Sylvia Cole and why? What happened to the missing girl and FBI Agent investigating her disappearance?

It turns out that I had correctly guessed the identity of Sylvia’s killer, although I hadn’t worked out the motive. For a picturesque town like Shutter Lake, a great number of its residents were hiding some pretty dark secrets. Our heroine for this book is Dr Luciana Perez, known as Ana. She hides the darkest secret of them all, and in the course of helping uncover the identity of Sylvia’s killer – she and Sylvia were close friends and Sylvia had confided in her about what she’d been investigating in the lead up to her death – Ana’s own painful secret about her past comes out. She’s ready to flee, but Deputy Laney Holt convinces her not to.

It’s with Ana’s determination and smarts that the killer is uncovered, but not before she is harmed in the process. However, the truth is uncovered in the end, and while everyone’s secrets have come out, it’s not to the whole town but to a chosen few.

While there were a few small things that didn’t gel for me in this book – there was a hint of a romantic attachment for Ana to a man featured heavily in the previous books that I didn’t see coming and didn’t care for at all, and once again some of the interactions between the female leads felt more like strangers than close friends – all up, I really enjoyed this series. If you like mysteries, you should enjoy this series.

Review: All The Lies by Peggy Webb

all the liesTitle: All The Lies

Author: Peggy Webb

Year of publication: Out today! The author kindly gave me a copy to read and review

The blurb: Julia Ford was once famous globally for investigative journalism until the story she was covering went so wrong and an unthinkable act put her on the run. She sought refuge in idyllic Shutter Lake, took a job as lifestyle reporter for the local paper and remained hidden in plan sight for five years…until murder snuffed out Sylvia Cole, the young woman who knew too much.With Sylvia’s killer still on the loose, another girl missing and Julia’s past showing up in the form of FBI Special Agent Richards, Julia begins a search that uncovers an evil spreading throughout Shutter Lake. Her last encounter with evil ripped her life apart. But this one could destroy some of the town’s most prominent citizens and tear down Shutter Lake’s very foundation.How far will she go to expose the deadly secrets in a once-perfect town built on lies?

Standalone or series: This is the third book in a four book mini-series, each one written by a different author. You will need to read all four in order, as together they form one big book.

The review: The story continues in this, the third book in the series. The idyllic town of Shutter Lake is now one fraught with suspicion and secrecy, and those secrets continue to unravel as our heroine for this book, investigative reporter Julia Ford, digs deeper into the murder of Sylvia Cole.

Julia came to Shutter Lake from Chicago after she was abducted by a serial killer known as the Jack ‘O Lantern killer. She only escaped him by killing him, but what exactly happened to her during the time he held her prisoner remains a mystery. While there are references sprinkled to her ordeal throughout the book, it never delves too deeply into what happened to her.

She agrees to contact a ‘friend’ in the FBI after Dana asks her to, but what she doesn’t tell her friends is that her contact is her ex-lover, Special Agent Patrick Richardson. Before she can call him, though, he turns up on her doorstep because his partner has gone missing and his last known location was none other than… Shutter Lake. After asking around, it seems he was looking into the disappearance of a young woman, Josie, who worked for Sylvia Cole and vanished several months ago.

Julia and Rick pick up the investigation, which not only leads them to uncovering more secrets of the town’s residents but a tragic situation which only deepens the mystery afoot. Another great installment that will keep you hanging for the last book, in which we get all the answers (hopefully!).

Review: So Many Secrets by Vicki Hinze

so many secretsTitle: So Many Secrets

Author: Vicki Hinze

Year of publication: Out today! The author kindly gave me a copy to read and review

The blurb: Seven years ago, Dr. Dana Perkins came to idyllic Shutter Lake seeking safety from a traumatic experience in Phoenix. She became the principal at Shutter Lake School—and found her refuge . . . until Sylvia Cole was killed and one of Dana’s best and brightest students, Vinn Bradshaw, confessed to the murder. A murder Dana is certain he didn’t commit. But who is he protecting? Why? Seeking the truth shatters Dana’s safety. Yet who could have predicted proving Vinn innocent would jeopardize her friends and neighbors . . . and expose so many secrets?

Standalone or series: This is the second book in a four book mini-series, each one written by a different author. You will need to read all four in order, as together they form one big book.

The review: This book picks up where book one left off, and this time the female protagonist is Dr. Dana Perkins, the Shutter Lake school principal and psychologist. One of her students has confessed to the murder of Sylvia Cole, who was found dead at the beginning of book one, and Dana doesn’t believe for a moment that he’s possibly guilty. So why is he confessing?

Book two delves deeper into Sylvia Cole’s life and the secrets she was keeping from – and about – everyone. It seems Sylvia had a darker side, a side not many people knew about, and the more Dana and her friends, including Deputy Police Chief Laney Holt, delve into Sylvia’s life, the more suspects for her murder they find.

Some of these secrets come to light in book two, but you’re still left with plenty of questions that need answers. There was a really interesting sub-plot involving Dana’s friends with the young, hot mayor of Shutter Lake, Thomas Jessup. My little romantic heart was hoping for some action between the two, but alas. It turns out that the good Mayor has been hiding a rather big secret of his own, which Dana figures out with the help of her friends.

Dana is understandably stressed; one of her students, of whom she’s very protective (and with good reason, as you find out why Dana moved to Shutter Lake in the first place) is in jail for murder; her friend has been hiding a secret she uncovers; and yet another secret about one of her teachers comes out, which requires her to take immediate and swift action.

One thing I did notice in this book (and I had noticed it in book one, but to a lesser extent) is that some of dialogue between characters who are supposed to be long standing friends was somewhat stilted, bordering on rude. They felt like strangers conversing, rather than friends. But it certainly wasn’t enough to throw me from another good instalment in this series. I have my theories about who the killer is (I have two possible suspects in mind) and am interested to see if I’m proved right in book four!

Review: The Dead Girl by Debra Webb

the dead girlTitle: The Dead Girl

Author: Debra Webb

Year of publication: Out today! The author kindly gave me a copy to read and review

The blurb: Former L.A. homicide detective Laney Holt walked away from big city crime after a shooting she couldn’t put behind her. With L.A. in her rear view mirror, she accepted the position of deputy chief of police in a small picturesque paradise called Shutter Lake. Nestled in a peaceful valley surrounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Shutter Lake is the perfect small town filled with pleasant, charming folks. The crime rate in Shutter Lake is zero…at least until the dead girl is found. The shocking murder shakes the town to it’s very foundation.

Laney’s past comes back to haunt her as she delves into the investigation of who murdered beautiful, young Sylvia Cole. But Laney’s secrets aren’t the only ones revealed as one by one the cracks in this perfect town start to show and the facade of perfection slowly begins to breakdown.

Standalone or series: This is the first book in a four book mini-series, each one written by a different author. You will need to read all four in order, as together they form one big book.

The review: This is not a romance book, but a thriller/suspense book. However, the author is also a romance writer, which is how I came to be reading it. The Dead Girl is the first in a four book mini-series, one of which will be released weekly, and this series is off to a crackingly good start with this book.

Shutter Lake Deputy Laney Holt is a former LAPD homicide detective who moved there two years previously, after an incident she can’t move past. She’s never needed to use her skills in homicide before, until one day Shutter Lake resident Sylvia Cole is found murdered in her home. Sylvia was twenty-six and well known to everyone in the community, having started her own cleaning company at the age of eighteen. It seems impossible that anyone would want her dead, but as Laney and Chief of Police Griff McCabe start to examine the evidence and dig into Sylvia’s life, they learn that she had secrets. And she was in the business of learning other people’s secrets. Is this what got her killed?

Sylvia was hiding a large sum of cash in her home safe. She was seeing a man for sex on a regular basis, a man who denies all knowledge of it. She was having an affair with someone else. A senior high schooler had a crush on her. She was possibly involved in helping someone out of a very dangerous situation. The author sets the scene well; there are so many possible suspects that it’s hard to know who the guilty party is. It looks like each book is written from the POV of one of the town’s well-known women, so I’m interested to read the next three and find out who the killer is and why Sylvia’s life was ended.

If you like mystery and suspense books, then you should give this series a read. My little romance heart? Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t be unhappy if Laney hooks up with Griff 😉