book review: All These Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford

I can’t believe it took me so long to read All These Perfect Strangers.  I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.  The book was full of twists and turns, and though I had some guesses about how it would turn out, I was surprised.

This suspense/crime fiction book is told in the first person narrative by girl named Penelope who is looking to escape her life in a small town by going to college.  Throughout the book, Pen is struggling to deal with a traumatic event involving the shooting of a police officer.  She starts keeping a diary at the request of her therapist.  Through this diary, the reader gets glimpses of what happened with the shooting in the small town as well as other bits of Pen’s life.

Some might find the book confusing because it jumps back and forth between Pen’s memories and what is happening to her presently at college.  As long as you remember that the diary entries are in the past, you’ll be fine.  I liked the transitions and I liked the way the story was told.

Mostly, I loved that I was surprised by how the book turned out.  I really appreciated how the book was told in the first person because Pen’s confusion and interpretation of events was evident.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from NetGalley for my honest review.

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Book Review: Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Career of Evil is the third book by Robert Galbraith (pen name for J. K. Rowling) about PI Cormoran Strike.

In this book, a killer is making it personal by sending body parts addressed to Robin.  Robin continues to play more of a major role in the investigation and Cormoran even refers to her as a “partner.” I loved that we continue to find more about Robin because she is such an interesting character.  We find out about why she quit school just shy of graduation.  There’s also more insight about her relationship with her fiance, although, I still find it difficult to accept that she’s with such a pompous lout.  The more that’s revealed about Matthew, the more of a jerk he appears to be and I’m left wondering why on Earth she would want to marry him.

Besides Cormoran and Robin, the other characters in the book aren’t very well developed.  There’s a friend of Cormoran’s who only helps out when they can pay him and the usual incompetent police figures.

There’s more development of the sexual tension/attraction between Cormoran and Robin, but it’s still sort of innocent, with neither admitting or allowing themselves to really think about a relationship together (other than their existing professional one).

The book ended on a frustrating note for me.  I was thinking, “Noooooooo!” at the very end.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I found that the weepy/mopey bits tended to drag.  Still a fan of the Cormoran Strike series!

Book review: Defending Jacob

Defending Jacob by William Landay is a book about an Assistant District Attorney whose son is accused of murdering a classmate, hence the title.  The book switches between first person narrative and transcripts from the trial.  The book shows how the lives of the parents are absolutely destroyed.  Their friends and neighbors, for the most part, abandon them and they are left questioning, not only whether or not their son is guilty, but whether or not they are responsible.  Was it the dad’s fault because he is descended from murderers?  Was it the mom’s fault because she put the kid in daycare when he was young?  If Jacob is innocent, how do they face him, having thought that he could have possibly done such a thing?  What if he is guilty?  How do they reconcile themselves with the fact that the boy they kissed as a chubby baby could have taken someone’s life?  If they are having doubts about their son’s innocence, are they morally obligated to tell someone about their concerns?  Or, are they morally obligated, as parents, to support and defend their son?

The biggest disappointment of the book was how the author portrayed teenagers.  Yes, teenagers are self-centered and they don’t always speak well, but having ALL of his teen characters use “like” and “you know” in every other sentence was a bit much.  The teen characters in this book had very little personality, except perhaps Jacob, but Jacob is mostly presented as a sullen, withdrawn, spoiled, entitled, brat.  However, the teenage characters play a minor role in the story.  Their role is to present information/evidence that the adults who aren’t computer savvy can’t figure out on their own (this, by the way, I found to be ridiculous because any police force is going to have some sort of cyber crimes unit – the book was published in 2013 – and where teenagers are involved, they’re certainly going to check social media sites like Facebook and Twitter).

This book did a great job of presenting the psychological trauma of the family before, during, and after the trial.  I liked the moral dilemmas that were presented, and seeing how the characters dealt with them.

This was an interesting read and I look forward to reading more of the author’s work.

Book review: Catch Me by Lisa Gardner

I read Catch Me by Lisa Gardner this weekend.  It’s a part of a series by Gardner about D.D. Warren, a detective in the Boston area.  This was the first book I’ve read by Lisa Gardner, and it wasn’t the first book in the series, but it doesn’t really matter a whole lot.  Some of the characters appeared in earlier books, but you don’t have to read the other books to know what is going on in this book.

In this book, D.D. Warren has to solve two crimes – one involves a girl whose two best friends were murdered on the same day exactly one year apart and the other a vigilante who has been killing pedophiles.  The girl, Charlie, believes that she will die on January 21st because her friends’ murders had the same MO.  In both cases, the women were murdered in their homes, with clean crime scenes and no signs of struggle.  This leads Charlie to believe that the murderer is someone that she knows.  She flees from her home and goes to Boston in the hopes of being able to flee from the murderer.  In Boston, she locates D.D. and explains why she thinks she is going to die, giving D.D. details about her preparations in case she is murdered so that D.D. will have a better chance of finding the murderer.  In the case of the pedophile-shootings, there was also no sign of a struggle and the victims were shot at close range.

This book caught my interest quickly because it reminded me of John Sandford’s books and because it deals with mental illness (I seem to be on a mental illness kick lately).  It was interesting to hear about how pedophiles lure their victims and how easy it is, despite kids being taught by their parents about staying away from strangers.  Even though the book is fiction, the author did her research.  If you look up information about internet safety for children, you’ll find that the book is accurate, even if the situation in the book is a dramatization.  Check out the FBI’s Parent Guide to Internet Safety for more information on protecting your children.

The plot was interesting and I learned information about pedophiles on the Internet.

I also read another book by the same author called The Seventh Month, which was really more like a novella or a short story, also starring D.D.  It was cute so after reading two books that I liked by the same author, I looked up the her website.  She has a sweepstakes on her site where you can submit a potential victim to be killed off in her next book.  Fun!  If you like crime novels or mysteries, I would recommend checking out some of Lisa Gardner’s books.