“In The Clearing” is the third book in the Tracy Crosswhite series and while each of these books is its own self-contained mystery, where you can kind of pick up anywhere in the series and not be lost, book two was best following book one due to the nuances in the story that carried over and affected book two's plot. Book three breaks that mold. Unlike books one and two, there are no elements from the previous books that make an appearance in this story that you’d be confused by. Dugoni does a nice recap of everything that has brought Tracy to this point, so if you read this book out of order, you’ll be fine. This story follows Tracy as she endeavors to solve a cold case that followed a friend’s father to his grave, with something about the case always nagging at him. Tracy agrees to look into it for her friend, and embarks on a forty year old crime that reminds her of her sister’s own disappearance and death. Unfortunately, that was the problem I had with this particular book in the series, it felt like a story I had already read.
****I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review****
“Seeking Dr. Magic” is a genre bender, meshing aspects of a crime-drama with pure magical fantasy in a clever way. We follow along as ex-FBI agent, Tony Hetfield, tries to figure out who is behind bizarre magical acts happening all around the world, and why they are happening to begin with. Tony has the fortune, or misfortune depending on how you look at it, of naming this mysterious being responsible for these phantom ninjas, drawing the attention of Dr. Magic, who doesn’t enjoy the new title. Tony is used to the limelight from other high profile cases, but even this is getting to be more than he can handle as government agencies around the world try to catch Dr. Magic, and Tony by proxy, in order to eliminate him as a potential threat. It’s a cool concept, and Dr. Magic has some awesome abilities, but the book just needed … a bit more.
****I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review****
The synopsis of this book does not do it justice! "Made Men" is what you'd get if the TV show "Supernatural" and a procedural cop drama had an illegitimate love child. The book focuses on Jim Shaw, an ex-military man who works as a contractor for the government and police (occasionally) to keep supernatural creatures in-line; everything from the classic werewolf, fae creatures, monstrous elves, and wisps so they don't hurt humans. In the world Creamer creates, all the creatures of lore and monsters that go bump in the night are no longer living in the shadows, but out in the open. They are no longer seen as just legends, but a fact of life. Shaw's job is to put the bad ones down and help law enforcement figure out who (or what) is responsible for the mayhem. Personally, I love this kind of stuff as I'm a big fan of supernatural lore and even the crass characters on "Supernatural". And while Creamer does a fabulous job, a bit more editing was needed. As it stands, his book is what it'd look like if "Supernatural" hated commas and paragraphs – which, who knows, maybe it does, but it started to get a bit distracting and it spoiled an otherwise thoroughly entertaining read.
****I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ****
“Killjoy” is, on the surface, a short tale about an assassin who makes all his victims appear to have committed suicide, leaving those who hire him completely blameless in their deaths. But beneath those themes of revenge, murder, and intrigue surrounding “how does he do it?”, is a lesson about enjoying life and living the life YOU want to live to its fullest, not one that others have dictated is “proper”. For the majority of the story, we are following Gwen, the wife of a prominent mob figure, as she interacts with the jovial assassin (who delights in donning new persona’s and as many overtly fake accents as he can manage) and comes to terms with the complicated feelings she has for Corbin Locke, the politician who is marked for death. Normally, quick reads are perfect for this type of story, but I found myself needing, and wanting, a bit more from Ravel in order to become more immersed in the story he presents.
“The Night Bird” is a psychological thriller about a killer who uses the phobia therapy of a prominent psychiatrist in San Francisco to terrorize said doctor by having her patients randomly commit suicide. Except it’s not really suicide because the Night Bird uses their fears and phobias to make them think that the thing they are most scared of in the world has come for them and the only way to escape is by killing themselves. It’s pretty messed up, going through someone’s mind and memories to torment them like that… The whole book feels like if the classic Dick Tracy noir detective and the movie “Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind” had a baby in 2016. The book is steeped in the ethical questions of whether it’s right or wrong to tamper with someone’s memories. Even if it helps remove a phobia that gives them a better quality of life, is it still the right thing to do? Evil psycho killer aside. The drama, the horror-like feel of the antagonist, and the fast paced cadence of this novel was really what saved it considering that most of the characters felt flat/one dimensional even with a tragic backstory, made frustratingly bad choices, and I simply did not like one of the main characters. Here’s why:
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