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Linwood Barclay

Posted by TJ under Linwood Barclay

I attended Thrillerfest in New York City last week and had the pleasure of attending a session presented by Linwood Barclay titled The Hook, Grabbing Your Reader from the Get Go. Listening to him describe how he takes a common story and applies a twist here and a turn there was extremely compelling.

Barclay is truly a master at creating unique challenging circumstances for the everyday guy down the street. His book Never Look Away is no exception. David Harwood is in a tailspin. His wife is missing and he is the prime suspect. It’s always the husband, right? Of course, as husbands always do, he is claiming he’s innocent and can’t understand why the police aren’t out looking for his wife, Jan.

I was hooked on Barclay beginning with his book No Time for Goodbye. I immediately set out to find and read as many Barclay books as I could. As with all of his books, at least the ones that I have read, Never Look Away has many twists and turns ending up down a path you would not have envisioned. When I figured out fairly soon what was going on with Jan, I was a bit bummed. If you figure it out too, never fear! There are enough twists and turns remaining to hook you into being a Linwood Barclay fan. And as in Too Close to Home even the guy who “done” it isn’t always what he seems.

I picked up a copy of his new book, A Tap On The Window at the conference and I can’t wait to read it.  I’ll keep you posted on it.


I am always excited when I find a new author and figure I hit the jackpot when that author has written a series. I hit the jackpot in 2010 when I won The Cold Room on LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program. I did a little research on the author J. T. Ellison and foundThe Cold Room was the fourth book in a series featuring Taylor Jackson. If you like psychological thrillers with a strong, yet vulnerable protagonist, these books are for you.

Jackson is a homicide detective in Nashville, Tennessee who has a history of turning up serial killers. That certainly leads to very interesting conversations with her fiancé, John Baldwin who is an FBI profiler. In The Cold Room, Taylor is on the search for a killer who slowly starves his victims to death as he watches. And this is only one of his perversions!

Taylor and John find that the case each has been working on has now become one. Their journey takes them back to Italy (read the first 3 to see how Italy plays into their story – you won’t be sorry). The hunt is complicated by a brooding New Scotland Yard detective James “Memphis” Highsmythe who is “hot” after Taylor while they are all “hot” after the killer.

If you have a bit of a “dark” side, as my reading group knows I do and have not yet read The Cold Room, you have just hit the jackpot! The Taylor Jackson series will give you a glimpse into the dark side witnessed by law enforcement officers worldwide.

After this initiation to the Taylor Jackson series I introduced my Murder Among Friends book club to Taylor Jackson with the first book of the series All the Pretty Girls.  I was a little nervous that the book would be a bit gruesome for the group, but it was a big hit with the other members.  Taylor and John Baldwin are introduced as they find themselves both working on cases that involve The Southern Strangler.  A local TV reporter is also on the case.  She has no idea how close to home this serial killer will get.  This killer’s trade mark is the object he leaves at the crime scene of the victim.  It’s the hand of his previous victim.

There are seven books total in the series.  I loved them all.  The titles in the order of publication are All the Pretty Girls, 14, Judas Kiss, The Cold Room, The Immortals, So Close the Hand of Death, and Where All the Dead Lie.


A Book is a Present You can Open Again and Again. That’s the saying from one of my favorite wall hangings.  It’s hard for anyone to buy a book for me because I have a tendency to buy most every book I want to read. For my birthday my daughter and her family gave me a Barnes and Noble gift card (my favorite gift) and a new book.  A book I had never heard anything about.  Score one for my daughter.  That book was Sly Fox.  I couldn’t put it down.  Double score for my daughter.

Dani Fox is a twenty-five year old assistant  district attorney in Westchester, New York.  It is 1976, Dani is the token woman in the district attorney’s office and women are just beginning to come into their own.  Both Dani and police detective Timothy O’Brien are driven by personal reasons to fight for the rights of battered women who don’t have the strength to fight for themselves.  Dani takes advantage of the political aspirations of her boss, Carlton Whitaker III Westchester County’s District Attorney, and soon leads the newly created Domestic Violence unit for the county.  Her efforts to protect these battered women put Dani’s life in danger more than once.  But she doesn’t let that stop her fight for those too weak to fight for themselves.

Strong characterization, convincing setting and fast pacing make this book a winner.  Books set in the present day represent a solid majority in my library.  Historical novels just don’t seem to hold my attention.  I’m not sure if 1976 qualifies as historical or not, but I remember 1976 and the climate of the day towards women. This book hit home.

I must confess I do not watch Fox News and had not heard of Jeanine Pirro before I read her book.  There was enough information on the jacket of the book though to lead me to Google.  Pirro was the first woman to prosecute a murder case in Westchester and she was the first female elected as district attorney.  In 1978, she also started the first domestic violence unit in a prosecutor’s office. Although this book is fiction, Sly Fox is her story.  Her biography certainly holds the promise of more stories.  I can only hope that Sly Fox is the first of many Dani Fox books to come.

In an earlier post, I mentioned the number of wins I have received through I have actually found some great reads by just requesting books from the Earlier Reader program. One of the first finds was Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo. I didn’t win the book, but the blurb sounded so good I had to go out and buy the book.

Burkholder grew up in the Amish community in Painters Mill, but a traumatic event in her youth caused her to leave both her family and her religion. Kate Burkholder has returned to Painters Mill. Big city police experience and an Amish background make her a perfect fit for chief of police. A killer strikes requiring Kate to investigate circumstances that mirror the very event that caused her to flee the peaceful community years before.  She must face up to the past in order to solve the crime. Burkholder begins a partnership with John Tomasetti from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation who struggles with his own issues from the past.

Castillo’s characters are flawed, but awe inspiring.   Her writing is suspenseful, riveting and gritty.   You will not be able to put Sworn to Silence down.

Sworn to Silence is the first in the series followed by Pray for Silence, Breaking Silence and Gone Missing.




Hello world!

Posted by TJ under Books and Authors

I am a voracious reader.  It’s a really good day when I finish a book I love by a new author AND I find out that it is only one of a series of books.  How do I know I loved the book?  I didn’t want it to end and I wanted to know more.  My favorite books are thrillers and mysteries and all the various sub-genres that encompasses.

I use all kinds of ways to find great thrillers and mysteries.  Used to be back in the day, I could always count on print magazines and newspapers to provide summer beach reads, better still when it was great mystery reads for summer. However, articles like that don’t provide a voracious reader with enough material.  So I had to branch out.

When I moved to Lisle, IL, I branched out and joined a book club at my local library.  I can highly recommend Murder Among Friends Lisle Library’s Mystery Book Group led by Patti Ruocco.  We meet on Thursday nights at the Lisle Library at 7:00pm.  Our August meeting to be held on August 16 at 7:00 pm is our planning meeting.  Even the books that don’t hit our list are pretty good reads.  Our monthly reads always include a wide variety of sub genres.  But because I am known as “the dark one” in the club I had to branch out even further to find more books with serial killers and political intrigue, two of my favorites.

I always wanted a list of the books I owned, but setting up a data base or spreadsheet with pertinent information seemed daunting to me.  Then I found  I could finally list all of my books by simply keying in an ISBN number.  And boy is it all the pertinent information.  It even includes weight  and dimensions!  Who knew?

And then I learned the very best news of all. has a section called LibraryThing Early Reviewers.  LibraryThing Early Reviewers provides free pre-release books to members willing to review them.  All you have to do is request it.  Request it and be one of 40 or 50 people out of 1000 to 1200 people.  Yea, they only have limited numbers of review copies.   And you have to write a review, but this is one place quality doesn’t count, but quantity does.  Just write a review 25 words or more and post it on the website.   I have found that if you are diligent about writing reviews after you have received the free copy, you are rewarded with additional wins.  To date I have requested 117 books and “won” 22.  Pretty good odds I think.

Anyway, I love to recommend my favorite books and authors to others who are searching for a good read.  So my plan for this site is to review books in the thriller and mystery genres, more intrigue than cozy, but as a true Agatha Christie fan, I’m sure a cozy or two will make the list.  So if you are looking for some good reads, check it out.


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