****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:
I’ve been on a kind of thriller/suspense kick lately. It’s an odd mix, I like to go back and forth between fantasy and this for reasons I can’t explain. So after reading books by Robert Bugoni, I picked up “A Dark Mind” on the Kindle Unlimited. I thought I’d be kicking myself by starting the Lizzy Gardner series with this book (it’s the 3rd) but it was fine. Like any crime drama, each in the series is a nice contained experience. So if you haven’t read any of the other in the series, not a big deal in my opinion and honestly, starting with the first in the exploits of Lizzy Gardner was probably not going to help the story or the writing all that much regardless.
I’ve been on a mystery / thriller kick lately and “My Sister’s Grave” really hit the spot. It was like reading an episode of “Bones” meets “Law and Order: SVU”. I shouldn’t really compare books to TV shows but forgive me this, I don’t read a ton in this genre all the time so TV shows are the easiest comparisons I can make. It didn’t have any of the TV show “Bones” absurd science where you magnify the pixels from a reflection in a doorknob to positively I.D your killer (which is a good thing) and it didn’t spend an inordinate amount of time describing the heinous crimes like in SVU, it gave you enough so you got the idea and then moved on (also, a good thing). Instead, Dugoni gives us a no-nonsense female homicide detective who started her career not as a cop, but as a high school chemistry teacher who also competed in shooting competitions. She’s smart. Tough as nails. She’s a believable badass and I love it.
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