“The one that got away” Simon Wood

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Ebook. Published March 1, 2015. Thomas & Mercer.

TheOneThatGotAwayWhen Zoe awoke that fateful night, she didn’t have any recollection as to what could have happened. In her last memory she and her friend Hollie were traveling through Vegas having fun, but she had no clue as to how they had now wound up captives in a strange place. Managing to free herself she saw Hollie being tortured, but chose to abandon her and run for her life.

In the 15 months since the attack, Zoe’s life has drastically changed. Unable to forgive herself for leaving Hollie behind, and choosing her own life over Hollie’s, she decided to punish herself. She dropped out of graduate school, separated herself from family and friends, and blamed herself everyday for Hollie’s disappearance. However her lonely existence is shattered when she learns of the murder of a young woman, which closely matches what happened to her and her friend Hollie.

Zoe decides to work with the police to find the killer, but she doesn’t know that the killer knows exactly where she lives and wants to finish the work he’d begun fifteen months earlier. Zoe is in his crosshairs as she’s the only one that ever got away from him, and he won’t make the same mistake twice.

As Wood leads readers on a desperate chase to discover the killer’s identity before he can find Zoe, the action-packed chapters had me completely engrossed. With each move on the killer’s part bringing him ever closer to Zoe, I couldn’t help but read faster to find out what would happen next to her. “The one that got away” will make readers take a closer look at their surroundings because we now know there are killers amongst us.

Highly recommended for Adult readers.

“Black-eyed Susans” Julia Heaerlin

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Ebook. Ballantine Books (Penguin). Published August 11, 2015.

BlackEyedSusansSixteen-year-old Tessa was lucky to be alive, as a serial killer had left her in a grave with several other bodies and bones for over 32 hours. Because of the flowers scattered around the area the dead girls were nicknamed “Susans,” with Tessa the only survivor.

Now grown with a teenaged daughter of her own, Tessa is unable to forget the terror and horror she felt in that lonely grave. The Susans haunt her, seeking justice, while she tries to force herself to remember what happened the night she was abducted. The killer was arrested back in 1995, but someone has been planting black-eyed susans everywhere she has lived over the years, leading her to believe the serial killer is still alive and that she helped place an innocent man in jail. Will he succeed in what he had failed to do when she was just 16 years old?

Through flashbacks and the present time, Heaerlin lays down a clever plot of betrayal, terror, and fear as readers pry back the layers of time to find out what really happened to Tessa and the Susans. The truth, when it was finally revealed, made me gasp in surprise and shock. “Black-eyed Susans” is a gut-wrenching story of suspense and horror, highly recommended for Adult readers.

“Normal: A Novel” Graeme Cameron

Rated 5 stars ***** Ebook. ARC. Published March 31, 2015. MIRA Books.

Normal“Normal” takes readers into the mind of a nameless serial killer who is not a “Silence of the Lambs” chop them up and eat them for lunch kind of a guy, but someone his victims may have seen regularly and dismissed as ordinary. As he describes how he stalked, killed and hacked up the body of an 18-year-old girl, readers will feel a shudder of revulsion for this heinous crime as they are ready to confine him to the deepest, darkest jail cell and throw away the key.

However, as a bit of humanity begins to peek out from his depraved life after he meets the woman of his dreams, readers begin to feel a bit guilty to find themselves feeling sympathetic towards him. How could they care, and laugh at some of his antics, knowing he is a cold-hearted murderer and is holding someone hostage in his soundproof basement? The answer lies in the author’s ability to create a character that, even with his many flaws, keeps readers invested and interested.

Highly recommended for Adult readers.

“Blood of my blood” Barry Lyga

Rated 5 stars ***** ebook. 2014. Jasper Dent #3. Little, Brown and Company (Hatchette).

BloodOfMyBloodArrested for the murder of FBI agent Morales, and with he NYPD planning on booking him for a slew of broken laws, Jazz is desperate to save his mother from Billy’s clutches. It is an easy thing to escape his hospital bed and go on a cross country journey to find them, but the hard part is knowing he will have to sacrifice his humanity in order to kill his father. As Jazz gets closer to his prey, his role in the Crow King story becomes easier to play. Reality and fantasy vie for supremacy in his mind and, as Jazz finds out horrific secrets of his past, he will have to call on his deepest resources of strength to come out unscathed.

Connie has managed to survive Billy’s attempt to kill her but will never be able to forget her ordeal. Through broken in body, her mind is frantic to find a way to save Jazz from his impending fate. As she and Howie put their heads together, they soon discover the clues they’ve found to help Jazz aren’t quite as clear-cut as they’d originally seemed to be. It may be too late to help Jazz as he heads towards a future he will never be able to undo.

This last book in the Jasper Dent series, and its spooky cover, is even more spectacular and tension filled than the others in the series. I was engrossed in turning its pages as fast as I could to find out what would happen next to Jazz, and was unable to put it down until I reached its mesmerizing conclusion.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Game” Barry Lyga

Rated 5 stars ***** ebook. 2013. Jasper Dent #2. Little, Brown and Company (Hatchette).

GameFresh off his capture of the Impressionist, Jazz is asked to come to New York City to assist the NYPD and FBI’s investigation of a serial killer nicknamed Hat-Dog. Faced with recurring nightmares which make him afraid he may grow up to become another Billy Dent, Jazz decides to head to New York and earn his “I hunt killers” tattoo. While leaving Howie in charge of his grandmother, a bit of hilarity ensues as Howie romantically pulls out all the stops (as only Howie can do) in his pursuit of Jazz’s aunt Samantha.

Meanwhile back in New York clues are assembled and Jazz begins to realize the killer is playing some sort of game with Billy at the heart of it. What he doesn’t know is Connie has deliberately involved herself in their deadly game, and the consequences for her could be fatal.

“Game” is even more exciting than “I hunt killers,” however, I was very disappointed in Connie. Her persistence in getting involved in a serious police case and not involve the authorities because she wanted to prove a point was childish, and definitely not the behavior I expected from someone who had proven to be the voice of reason in “I hunt killers.” The exciting cliffhanger ending will leave readers clamoring to get “Blood of my Blood,” the final book in the series. I can’t wait to see if Billy Dent will finally, and forever, get out of Jazz’s life.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Lucky Day,” “Career Day,” “Neutral Mask” and “Blood Boy” by Barry Lyga

Rated 4 stars **** ebook. “I Hunt Killers” (Jasper Dent #1) prequels. Little, Brown and Company (Hatchette Book Group).

Lucky Day (Jasper Dent 0.1, 2014): Sheriff G. William Tanner faces two murders in his little town of Lobo Nod. Both murders have similarities yet the killer didn’t leave any clues. As he works through the case, readers find out how he came to realize Billy Dent committed the murders.

Career Day (Jasper Dent 0.5, 2012): Facing the decision of what he’d like to do with the rest of his life makes Jazz feel ill. His father was a serial killer, so does that mean he is destined to carry on his line of work?

Neutral Mask (Jasper Dent 0.6), 2013): Connie enjoys her time with Jazz, but when she finds out his father is Billy Dent she wonders if her father can handle finding out her new boyfriend is not only White, not Black, but also the son of a serial killer. She is a strong young woman, refusing to let circumstances such as her father’s small mindedness or Jazz’s father stand in the way of their happiness.

Blood Boy (Jasper Dent 0.8), 2014): Howie, Jazz’s funny hemophiliac friend, is explored in more detail on Halloween night as he seeks true love.

JasperDentPrequels

All of these prequels are quick reads and take place before “I Hunt Killers.” None need to be read before beginning the Jasper Dent series.

Recommended for readers aged 14 and older.

“I Hunt Killers” Barry Lyga

Rated 5 stars ***** ebook. 2012. Jasper Dent #1. Little, Brown & Company.

IHuntKillersSeventeen-year-old Jasper wanted a normal life but having Billy Dent, a serial killer, for a father meant life could never be normal.

It’s been four years since his father’s crime spree came to an end with his capture and arrest. However, all the years of having fatherly lessons drilled into his head for maiming and killing, which included hands-on demonstrations, has made Jazz think he could one day become Billy Dent: Killer #2.

A killer arrives in town, and Jazz is horrified to find out the person has been copying Billy’s earlier murders. Knowing that Billy killed 124 people, Jazz is determined to work with the police to find the murderer before he reaches that number, but his mind is so muddled up between his mixed-up past and his confusing present that he doesn’t realize what’s really happening in his town until it’s too late.

With “I Hunt Killers,” Barry Lyga explores the dark, twisted world of sociopathic serial killers and the repercussions of their lives on those they’ve left behind. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.

Recommended for readers aged 14 and older.