Book Review: The Dilemma

Title: The Dilemma
Author: B. A. Paris
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 352
Publication Date: June 30, 2020
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or Series: Standalone
Received from: NetGalley
Date Finished Reading: July 28, 2020

Goodreads Review: 
It’s Livia’s fortieth birthday and tonight she’s having a party, a party she’s been planning for a long time. The only person missing will be her daughter, Marnie.

But Livia has a secret, a secret she’s been keeping from Adam, her husband, until the party is over. Because how can she tell him that although she loves Marnie, she’s glad their daughter won’t be there to celebrate with her?

Adam is determined everything will be just right for Livia and the party is going to be perfect… until he learns something that will leave him facing an unbearable decision.

My Review: It took a long time for me to review this book, because I really couldn’t make up my mind about it. It was a unique concept with some twists and turns. However, this book just didn’t grab me. It dragged a lot. I just wanted the birthday party to end and everyone to be honest with each other. I struggled to get through this book just because I did want to see how it ended. I thought there might be another exciting twist at the end, but there really wasn’t. Even the end was very meh. I think giving it 3 out of 5 stars may be a bit generous.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦


Book Review: The Girls Weekend

The Girls Weekend
Author: Jody Gehrman
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Pages: 311
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley
Date finished reading: June 11, 2020

Goodreads Description: Their reunion just became a crime scene . . .

June Moody, a thirty-something English professor, just wants to get away from her recent breakup and reunite with girlfriends over summer break. Her old friend and longtime nemesis, Sadie MacTavish, a mega-successful author, invites June and her college friends to a baby shower at her sprawling estate in the San Juan Islands. June is less than thrilled to spend time with Sadie–and her husband, June’s former crush–but agrees to go.

The party gets off to a shaky start when old grudges resurface, but when they wake the next morning, they find something worse: Sadie is missing, the house is in shambles, and bloodstains mar the staircase. None of them has any memory of the night before; they wonder if they were drugged. Everyone’s a suspect. Since June had a secret rendezvous with Sadie’s husband, she has plenty of reason to suspect herself. Apparently, so do the cops.

A Celtic knot of suspense and surprise, this brooding, atmospheric novel will keep you guessing as each twist reveals a new possibility. It will remind you of friendships hidden in the depths of your own past, and make you wonder how well you really know the people you’ve loved the longest.

My Review: I had the pleasure of receiving an ARC of The Girls Weekend from NetGalley. A fun girls weekend with old friends turns into a nightmare when one of the five girls, Sadie, disappears one night leaving a trail of blood in her wake. Unfortunately, the friends’ recollection of what occurred that night is spotty. They all feel like they were drugged, because they only recall bits and pieces of what occurred that night (though for some reason none of them decided to go get a drug test). How do you figure out the truth when you can’t remember anything? How do you know who to trust?

I am usually not a fan of unreliable narrator stories, but this one more inventive than most. The friends had not spent time together in many years, and all of them had a motives to harm Sadie. To be honest, after reading how Sadie treated her friends, I don’t really understand why any of them would have agreed to go to her home for this girls weekend. However, this made for a lot of tension.

Spoiler alert: I actually thought that based on the type of person Sadie was portrayed as that she had faked her own death. I was wrong. Her body was discovered and the twists and turns really became to pick up.

This story is told through June Moody, who had plenty of motives to kill Sadie (Sadie is a more successful writer than June; is very wealthy; and is married to the man that proposed to June many years ago – Sadie basically has June’s life), and quickly becomes the police’s prime suspect. She is determined to piece together what occurred that night based on her bits of memory and what others remember. Once the friends start to work together a bit, they develop a strong theory of what happened that night, which leads to the ultimate climax.

All the twists and turns kept me captivated. It was hard to put down. I did feel like the end was a bit anti-climactic, but it was an overall thrill-ride. The epilogue was nice but meh. I kept wishing that the author would tell us if June Moody took this girls weekend experience to finally become the successful writer she always wanted to be. I would have preferred that epilogue over the “who loves who” ending. I really enjoyed the book overall though, and it made me think twice about planning the girls weekend I want to do with my college roommates next year.

Note: Publication date was moved back and may be moved back even further.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Book Review: Ghosts of Harvard

GhostofHarvard-Cover-HC-0120-650wTitle: Ghosts of Harvard
Author: Francesca Serritella
Genre: psychological thriller
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Pages: 480
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley ARC
Date finished reading: May 30, 2020

Goodreads Description: A Harvard freshman becomes obsessed with her schizophrenic brother’s suicide. Then she starts hearing voices.

Cadence Archer arrives on Harvard’s campus desperate to understand why her brother, Eric, a genius who developed paranoid schizophrenia took his own life there the year before. Losing Eric has left a black hole in Cady’s life, and while her decision to follow in her brother’s footsteps threatens to break her family apart, she is haunted by questions of what she might have missed. And there’s only one place to find answers.

As Cady struggles under the enormous pressure at Harvard, she investigates her brother’s final year, armed only with a blue notebook of Eric’s cryptic scribblings. She knew he had been struggling with paranoia, delusions, and illusory enemies—but what tipped him over the edge? With her suspicions mounting, Cady herself begins to hear voices, seemingly belonging to three ghosts who walked the university’s hallowed halls—or huddled in its slave quarters. Among them is a person whose name has been buried for centuries, and another whose name mankind will never forget.

Does she share Eric’s illness, or is she tapping into something else? Cady doesn’t know how or why these ghosts are contacting her, but as she is drawn deeper into their worlds, she believes they’re moving her closer to the truth about Eric, even as keeping them secret isolates her further. Will listening to these voices lead her to the one voice she craves—her brother’s—or will she follow them down a path to her own destruction?

My Review: I am grateful to have received an ARC of Ghosts of Harvard from NetGalley. This was an interesting read for sure. It was a mix of fiction and nonfiction. It was a psychological thriller and mystery with a supernatural side note.

As I formally lived in Boston, I was thrilled to experience the author’s vivid descriptions of the Harvard campus. However, I struggled with the pacing of this book. I felt that it was about 100 pages too long. The middle was too slow, but I was very invested in the main character, Cady, as she tried to find out the truth behind her brother’s suicide. I was also invested in finding out the truth of what Cady was going through from the Prologue at the beginning. I thoroughly enjoyed the final quarter of the book. There were twists and turns, and I could not put it down.

I am not sure I understand the point of the main character being visited by ghosts. All I can come up with is that the author really wanted to create an unreliable main character, so the reader could not be able to distinguish between reality and fantasy. I never truly believed that Cady was suffering from schizophrenia like her brother had. However, I appreciate this interesting twist the author provided and acknowledge that much of the interaction with the ghost were based on history facts.

This story is one that I continue to go over in my head as I attempt to understand some of the deeper meaning the author was trying to express. It is the kind of book that stays with you.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

Book Review: The Tenant

tenantTitle: The Tenant
Author: Katrine Engberg
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Scout Press
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Pages: 356
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Book #1 of Kørner/Werner series
Where I got the book: Goodreads Giveaway
Date finished reading: February 5, 2020

Goodreads Description: When a young woman is discovered brutally murdered in her own apartment, with an intricate pattern of lines carved into her face, Copenhagen police detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner are assigned to the case. In short order, they establish a link between the victim, Julie Stender, and her landlady, Esther de Laurenti, who’s a bit too fond of drink and the host of raucous dinner parties with her artist friends. Esther also turns out to be a budding novelist—and when Julie turns up as a murder victim in the still-unfinished mystery she’s writing, the link between fiction and real life grows both more urgent and more dangerous.

But Esther’s role in this twisted scenario is not quite as clear as it first seems. Is she the culprit—or just another victim, trapped in a twisted game of vengeance? Anette and Jeppe must dig more deeply into the two women’s pasts to discover the identity of the brutal puppet-master pulling the strings in this electrifying literary thriller.

My Review: I want to thank Scout Press and Goodreads for sending me this book. I haven’t won a Goodreads giveaway in a while and was really happy to receive this one.

I am thrilled with the setting of this story, as it takes place in Copenhagen and other areas of Denmark. I don’t believe I have read anything by a Danish author before. Plus, the timing is wonderful, as I hope to travel to that country this summer.

The Tenant is Katrine Engberg’s debut novel. She was a choreographer and dancer, and now I believe that she is a spectacular fiction crime writer. It was a very impressive first novel.

The plot was very well constructed and kept me entertained from beginning to end. This book contains so many twists and turns that you don’t know who the guilty party is – maybe they are all a little guilty. There are lots of interesting components to the murders that take place, including the fact that a fictional story that was written weeks before the murder describes the actual murder. There were so many wonderful pieces of the puzzle that were discovered bit by bit throughout the story, that it truly keeps the reader engaged.

I loved a lot of the supporting characters, especially those that lived in the apartment building where the original murder took place. Gregers and Ester de Laurenti were my favorite characters. The only thing that prevented me from absolutely loving this story was the fact that I didn’t care about the main characters at all – Detective Jeppe Korner and Detective Anette Werner. We learn much more about Detective Korner than Detective Werner in this story, but what was revealed did not interest me. They were a bit boring and just made all the supporting characters look that much more fascinating. I’m not quite sure those are good characters to base a series on.

However, I very much enjoyed the overall story and believe it to be very well written. I look forward to reading more by this author!

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Book Review: The Look-Alike

look-alikeTitle: The Look-Alike
Author: Erica Spindler
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Pages: 320
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley ARC
Date finished reading: January 29, 2020

Goodreads Description: Sienna Scott grew up in the dark shadow of her mother’s paranoid delusions. Now, she’s returned home to confront her past and the unsolved murder that altered the course of her life.

In her mother’s shuttered house, an old fear that has haunted Sienna for years rears its ugly head —that it was she who had been the killer’s target that night. And now, with it, a new fear—that the killer not only intended to remedy his past mistake—he’s already begun. But are these fears any different from the ones that torment her mother?

As the walls close in, the line between truth and lie, reality and delusion disintegrate. Has Sienna’s worst nightmare come true? Or will she unmask a killer and finally prove she may be her mother’s look-alike, but she’s not her clone?

My Review: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. I really enjoyed the last thriller I read through NetGalley, so I was looking forward to keeping the momentum going.

This was a very quick read for me. The story flowed by and was a fun read. However, I had a few issues with The Look-Alike that made me far from love it.

First of all, we “maybe” have an unreliable narrator, which makes the main character a bit annoying at time. While Sienna Scott’s mother does suffer from paranoid personality disorder, this does not mean that Sienna herself has it, but every time something her mother says actually happens, Sienna thinks that she is suffering from the same disorder, which gets annoying. This thinking leads Sienna to hesitate in telling others about things that are happening, but then she doesn’t seem to hesitate to tell the stranger across the street that she just met. I guess the thinking is that a stranger may buy her possible delusions as facts more than a friend or relative would?

Second, since I just mentioned “friend”, Sienna does seem to have friends, who call and leave messages, but we really don’t meet any of these friends. Why are these “friends” not more a part of the story? Why does the main character not confide in her “friends” more?

Third, the potential buyers of The Wagon Wheel just happened to not be able to secure funding? Was this just to make the story have a completely happy ending?

Finally, I found that the plot and the mysteries were very predictable. I knew who the new neighbor, Jonathan, was right away. I also figured right from the start who the bad guy was, as he pretty much inserted himself in the Madison Robie murder right from the beginning. There weren’t any of the twists or turns that I normally enjoy in a good thriller.

I still enjoyed the movement of the story, and while the characters were not strong characters, they were still interesting, especially Sienna’s mother. I loved that character. Plus, I found it a bonus that this story takes place in my home state of Wisconsin. Overall, I liked The Look-Alike, but I did not love it.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

Book Review: The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

7-1-2-deaths-of-evelyn-hardcastleTitle: The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle 
Author: Stuart Turton
Genre: Mystery, Fantasy
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: February 8, 2018
Pages: 432
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: standalone
Where I got the book: Amazon Kindle
Date finished reading: January 14, 2020

Goodreads Description: “Gosford Park” meets “Groundhog Day” by way of Agatha Christie – the most inventive story you’ll read this year.

Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed… again.

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

My Review: Note: This review may include some spoilers! This book was picked by a member of my book club for our group to read. It had been on my TBR for more than a year, so I was excited to finally pick it up.

7 ½ Deaths has a strong beginning. The reader is immediately thrown into an intense situation. A few members of my book club were disappointed that it started with the main character having amnesia, as the concept of an unreliable narrator seems to be overdone lately. However, what I found interesting about the main character having amnesia was that he didn’t just seem to not know the people or scene around him, but he didn’t even recognize his own body. That made me think that maybe it was not his own body. And that my friends was the first of a few twists and turns in this book. The main character is forced to relive the same day 8 times in 8 different bodies to solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle.

This book definitely had an Agatha Christie feel (house full of suspicious characters where a murder takes place) mixed with a bit of the fantastical like in the Netflix series Black Mirror. If you read any interviews or bios about the author, he is a huge video gamer, and this book felt very much like video game, where you have 8 lives to complete the mission.

I desperately wanted the answers to all my many questions like: Why was the main character, Aidan, being forced to solve this mystery? Who is Aidan, since he is not any of the bodies that he inhabits? Who does murder Evelyn Hardcastle? Is she murdered? With this need to have my questions answered, I read through to the very end, but I cannot say that I enjoyed the trip. There were so many characters (most of them not very redeemable characters) and the time hopping got a bit frustrating at times. One book club member dislikes time travel in books due to causality issues. I feel that there were a few of those issues in this book. About halfway through the book I really stopped caring about what was happening. I just wanted to get to the end. Even Aidan, in one of the end scenes, states, “Everything is a clutter – too many days, too many conversations.” He is not wrong.

By the time I got to the end, I was not quite sure how I wanted the mystery to play out or if I even cared. There were some twists at the end that I did not see coming, but that did not make up for the effort it took to get there. This book while incredibly unique is very involved and was just felt very meh to me.

Those who have read this, how did you feel about this book? How did you feel about the ending – particularly about Anna and Aidan leaving the past in the past and deciding to have a future together?

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Reading Agatha Christie – June 2019

One of my reading goals for 2019 is to become more familiar with works by different authors by featuring a different author every month (see A Focus on Authors Reading Challenge). June was spent reading some of Agatha Christie‘s many books along with a recent biography of her.

abcTitle: The A.B.C. Murders
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Collins Crime Club
Publication Date: January 6, 1936
Pages: 236
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Book 13 of the Hercule Poirot series
Where I got the book: Library book sale
Date finished reading: June 17, 2019

Goodreads Description: When Alice Ascher is murdered in Andover, Hercule Poirot is already on to the clues. Alphabetically speaking, it’s one down, twenty-five to go.

There’s a serial killer on the loose. His macabre calling card is to leave the ABC Railway guide beside each victim’s body. But if A is for Alice Asher, bludgeoned to death in Andover; and B is for Betty Bernard, strangled with her belt on the beach at Bexhill; then who will Victim C be?

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Murder_is_Easy_First_Edition_Cover_1939Title: Murder is Easy
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Collins Crime Club
Publication Date: June 5, 1939
Pages: 320
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Book 4 of the Superintendent Battle series
Where I got the book: Bookstore
Date finished reading: June 27, 2019

Goodreads Description: A new ‘signature edition’ of Agatha Christie’s thriller, featuring the return of Superintendent Battle. Luke Fitzwilliam could not believe Miss Pinkerton’s wild allegation that a multiple murderer was at work in the quiet English village of Wychwood — or her speculation that the local doctor was next in line. But within hours, Miss Pinkerton had been killed in a hit-and-run car accident. Mere coincidence? Luke was inclined to think so — until he read in The Times of the unexpected demise of Dr Humbleby…

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦

mysterious affairTitle: The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: John Lane
Publication Date: October 1920
Pages: 304
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Book 1 of the Hercule Poirot series
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: July 1, 2019

Goodreads Description: The famous case that launched the career of Hercule Poirot. When a wealthy heiress is murdered, Poirot steps out of retirement to find the killer. As the master detective makes his way through the list of suspects, he finds the solution in an elaborately planned scheme almost impossible to believe.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My Review: I’ve enjoyed reading Agatha Christie, since a teacher had my class read And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express when I was 12 years old. Every now and then, I like to revisit her works. Since she is so prolific, there are plenty of her novels I have not read.

When I was younger I did not know how I quite felt about the Poirot character. He bothered me a little bit. However, as I get older, I see just how brilliant that character and series are (and quite humorous at times). I finally read the first book in the Hercule Poirot series, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and was blown away by Christie’s descriptions of poison. I’ve always been impressed with Agatha Christie’s ability to set a scene and provide multiple suspects, but now I found that I am also impressed with her descriptions regarding the mode of murder.

I can’t help but compare modern mysteries and thrillers to the stories that Agatha Christie created. She truly set the baseline for what makes a great mystery. If you have never read an Agatha Christie book, I highly recommend doing so immediately!

My Overall Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ¼


Book Club Review: A Cold Day for Murder

murderTitle: A Cold Day for Murder
Author: Dana Stabenow
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 1, 1992
Pages: 208 pages
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Book One of A Kate Shugak Mystery series
Where I got the book: Library
Date finished reading: April 9, 2019

Goodreads Description: Kate Shugak returns to her roots in the far Alaskan north, after leaving the Anchorage D.A.’s office. Her deductive powers are definitely needed when a ranger disappears. Looking for clues among the Aleutian pipeliners, she begins to realize the fine line between lies and loyalties–between justice served and cold murder.

My Review: Since Agatha Christie is the mystery writer that made me fall in love with this genre, I tend to compare all mysteries to hers. In my opinion, it has been hard to find a mystery writer who can set a scene and describe/develop characters, while still moving the plot along in a thrilling way like Agatha Christie can. I can definitely argue that Dana Stabenow did set the scene and included some thrilling moments, especially toward the end. I thoroughly enjoyed her descriptions of the Alaskan scenery/terrain and the cultural/tribal topics that were addressed. However, character development left something to be desired. It is hard to lend support to the main character, Kate Shugak, when you feel like you’ve come in during the middle of her story. I just found the introduction to the main character abrupt and confusing. Maybe a prologue of some kind would have been useful. I also never bothered to try to guess who was behind the disappearance of the two men, because I never felt like I knew enough about any of the characters to offer a guess. My favorite character in the book was Kate’s dog, Mutt. He seemed to have more of a personality than the rest of the characters. I did try to take into consideration that this was her first published mystery book, but I expected more since it won the Edgar Award. This was a quick read and entertaining/thrilling at moments, but it was an overall miss in my opinion. It definitely didn’t interest me enough to continue reading the rest of the series.

It should be noted, that other members of my book club enjoyed this novel and some of the characters much more than I did, as you can see by the overall club rating below.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦

Book Club Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ¼

Book Club Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway

1501151835Title: The Death of Mrs. Westaway
Author: Ruth Ware
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Thorndike Press, Gale Publishing
Publication Date: June 27, 2018
Pages: 368
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Bookstore
Date finished reading: February 9, 2019

Goodreads Description: On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

My Review: I have read Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Lying Game, and so far The Death of Mrs. Westaway is my favorite. One thing that I have realized about myself as a reader is that I truly enjoy fiction the most when I like the main character or at least some of the characters. Harriet “Hal” Westaway is an endearing main character. Her life and future changed drastically when her mother was killed very suddenly. She was unable to go to college like she had planned and instead took over her mother’s tarot card booth on the touristy Brighton Pier. Through the author’s wonderful descriptions, you really get to understand Hal’s unfortunate circumstances. It is the winter season in Brighton, which means there aren’t a lot of tourists, so business is slow. It also means that it is very cold. With very little income coming in, Hal has barely enough money to buy food, nevertheless heat her small apartment. To add to her unfortunate circumstance, Hal had borrowed money from a loan shark after her mother’s untimely death, and now she is being harassed and threaten to pay the loan back with a significant amount of interest. As a reader, you truly understand Hal’s desperate situation that influenced her decision to take on the identity of granddaughter to the recently departed Mrs. Westaway. Hal’s hope was that she would inherit a small amount of money to help her pay off her debts, live a bit more comfortably, and that no one would find out that she is not Mrs. Westaway’s daughter, but she got far more than she bargained for.

Ruth Ware really knows how to use a setting to increase the intensity of the mystery in her books. In The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Ruth Ware creates this rundown manor, called Trepassen House, as the location where all the characters gather and spend the night after Mrs. Westaway’s funeral. The manor feels dark and full of secrets. The author also uses a fateful snow storm that forces two characters back to Trepassen House and leads to the climatic ending.

I enjoy mysteries that keep me on my toes, where there are so many elements that it is hard to figure out who is friend or foe. As I read The Death of Mrs. Westaway, I wrote down all the questions I had that I hoped would be resolved by the end of the book. Is Hal related to Mrs. Westaway? Who is Hal’s mother? Who is Hal’s father? What happened to Maud? Who is trying to kill Hal? I was pleased that all my questions were answered, though at times I got a bit confused (especially trying to tell the difference between Maud and Maggie).

I enjoyed this latest novel by Ruth Ware and look forward to her next book, The Turn of the Key, which comes out later this year.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Book Club Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ¾

Book Review: She Lies in Wait

{E99A8E48-10B0-4CA2-B11A-FECDF2267CAF}Img400Title: She Lies in Wait
Author: Gytha Lodge
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Pages: 368
Format Read: ebook
Standalone or series: Book 1 of the DCI Jonah Sheens series
Where I got the book: Netgalley ARC
Date finished reading: February 11, 2019

Goodreads Description: On a scorching July night in 1983, a group of teenagers goes camping in the forest. Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and the youngest of the group—Aurora Jackson—is delighted to be allowed to tag along. The evening starts like any other—they drink, they dance, they fight, they kiss. Some of them slip off into the woods in pairs, others are left jealous and heartbroken. But by morning, Aurora has disappeared. Her friends claim that she was safe the last time they saw her, right before she went to sleep. An exhaustive investigation is launched, but no trace of the teenager is ever found.

Thirty years later, Aurora’s body is unearthed in a hideaway that only the six friends knew about, and Jonah Sheens is put in charge of solving the long-cold case. Back in 1983, as a young cop in their small town, he had known the teenagers—including Aurora—personally, even before taking part in the search. Now he’s determined to finally get to the truth of what happened that night. Sheens’s investigation brings the members of the camping party back to the forest, where they will be confronted once again with the events that left one of them dead, and all of them profoundly changed forever.

My Review: The setup of this mystery is fantastic. A body is found of a young girl, Aurora, who has been missing for 30 years. The night Aurora disappeared, she was camping with her sister, Topaz, and her sister’s friends: JoJo, Brett, Connor, Coralie and Benners. When Aurora’s body is found, this group of friends returns to Southampton and the scene of the disappearance. As the police team, led by DCI Jonah Sheens, starts piecing together what occurred that night that led to Aurora’s death, more questions and concerns arise. What role did drugs play in what occurred that night? What was Aurora’s relationship with her teacher, who had been conveniently camping near Aurora that night she disappeared? Did JoJo’s husband die from a climbing accident or was it murder?

Trigger warning for sexual assault. After analyzing Aurora’s body, it is discovered that she had been sexually assaulted. After interviewing a former childhood friend of Aurora’s, it was discovered that that friend had also been sexually assaulted just a few days before Aurora went missing.

There were so many pieces of this mystery, that by the end of the story, I had no clue what had actually happened to Aurora. The reader can also tell that this is the beginning of a series, because character side stories are mentioned that do not really support the movement of the plot. In some ways I think there may have been too many pieces of this story, but it definitely kept the mystery alive and the plot thrilling.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦