Book Review Tuesday: Chasing the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar @RichardChizmar @GalleryBooks #suspense #metafiction #serialkillers

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over image

Happy Tuesday! For my last Book Review Tuesday of May, I have a fabulous NetGalley read to share. Before I get started, a tip of the hat to Kim of By Hook or By Book for pointing me to this title through her own fantastic review. I count Chasing the Boogeyman as one of my top reads of the year.

BOOK BLURB:

The New York Times bestselling coauthor of Gwendy’s Button Boxbrings his signature “thrilling, page-turning” (Michael Koryta, author of How It Happened) prose to this story of small-town evil that combines the storytelling of Stephen King with the true-crime suspense of Michelle McNamara.

In the summer of 1988, the mutilated bodies of several missing girls begin to turn up in a small Maryland town. The grisly evidence leads police to the terrifying assumption that a serial killer is on the loose in the quiet suburb. But soon a rumor begins to spread that the evil stalking local teens is not entirely human. Law enforcement, as well as members of the FBI are certain that the killer is a living, breathing madman—and he’s playing games with them. For a once peaceful community trapped in the depths of paranoia and suspicion, it feels like a nightmare that will never end.

Recent college graduate Richard Chizmar returns to his hometown just as a curfew is enacted and a neighborhood watch is formed. In the midst of preparing for his wedding and embarking on a writing career, he soon finds himself thrust into the real-life horror story. Inspired by the terrifying events, Richard writes a personal account of the serial killer’s reign of terror, unaware that these events will continue to haunt him for years to come.

A clever, terrifying, and heartrending work of metafiction, Chasing the Boogeyman is the ultimate marriage between horror fiction and true crime. Chizmar’s “brilliant…absolutely fascinating, totally compelling, and immediately poignant” (C.J. Tudor, New York Times bestselling author) writing is on full display in this truly unique novel that will haunt you long after you turn the final page.

MY REVIEW:

Although I’m not a fan of true crime stories, there was something about this book that appealed to me the first time I read a review. Maybe it was the hint of a supernatural/horror element, or maybe the concept of metafiction. I could honestly go rounds with that description and still have difficulty delivering a solid definition. Bottom line, In Search of the Boogeyman is a fictional novel made to read like true crime. The delivery is quite clever, and the story is riveting.

The first few chapters provide background on the central character, where he grew up, why he’s in his present circumstances, etc. etc. and those are almost entirely prose. It took me some settling in to adjust to that pace, but the descriptions about small town life and childhood memories are richly textured and sure to awaken nostalgia. Add in that Edgewood, Maryland is a real town—along with many other places referenced in the novel—and the content begins to feel more factual than fictional. I’ve visited several of the places Chizmar references. By chapter three, I wanted to speed read to the end.

It’s the summer of 1988 and Richard has returned to his hometown just as a murder occurs—unthinkable in a small town like Edgewood. When other murders follow—all young girls, all missing a left ear and posed after death—residents fear a serial killer is on the loose. Dubbed the “boogeyman” the killer seems impossible to catch. Richard finds himself caught up in the search, his path intertwining with a journalist friend and the lead detective on the case. 

I can be squeamish about books with serial killers, but there was nothing overly graphic in this novel. Chills, goose bumps, suspense and tension abound. There are several nighttime scenes that are especially creepy. It’s clear the victims met with violent ends, but gore doesn’t factor into the descriptions which I appreciated. To add to the true crime feel, each chapter closes with photos of crime scenes, town locations, and family photos of the victims. In Chizmer’s skillful hands, the book becomes mystery, thriller, and a haunting tale of small-town life that lingers long after finishing. I also loved the inclusion of an afterward from the author explaining how the book came about and how the photos were developed. Chasing the Boogeyman is definitely among my favorite reads for the year!

Thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley for my ARC!


Want a good read that will keep you up at night flipping pages? This one surely did! Thanks to NetGalley and my own mammoth TBR, I’ve been binge-devouring books lately. Goodreads tells me I’m nineteen novels ahead in my reading challenge for 2021 (although I did cut it back from last year). As a result, you may start seeing more book reviews from me scattered here and there in the weeks and months ahead. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow when I’ll be sharing my reviews for the first book in a new cozy series, and the latest release in a buddy/paranormal adventure series.

Book Spotlight: Out of Kindness by J.A. Walsh @JAWALSH_BOOKS @SunburyPress #thriller #suspense

An open book with rays and orbs of light shooting from the pages

Thanks for joining me for another Book Spotlight. Today, I’m welcoming Sunbury Press author, J.A. Wash with his suspense/thriller novel, Out of Kindness. J. A. has the perfect background to spin this type of tale, as you’ll see when you check out his bio. First be sure to read the blurb for his very intriguing release, then drop a line to share your thoughts! Doesn’t that cover rock?

Book Description:

A beautiful Irish island reveals its ugly secrets in this thriller of the opioid crisis

Sean Casper retired from the Boston Police to get away from murderers. He left Massachusetts to get away from everything else, especially his broken marriage and the pain of his son’s fentanyl overdose.

Casper retreats to a seaside cottage on a beautiful Irish island, unaware he is surrounded by ugly secrets. When Casper finds a mutilated lamb ritually displayed in an ancient cemetery, he reads up on the island’s only recorded murder and sees a pattern.

One of the island’s 600 residents is a serial killer. Someone else is about to die.

His investigation leads to Aoife Walsh, an island native suffering from the same addiction that killed his son. Her best friend was murdered twenty years ago, and she knows who did it. With no authority, but nothing to lose, Casper goes after the killer. 

Instead of finding an island refuge, Casper discovers much of Europe’s heroin passes through the island’s remote coast. And as he gets closer to the truth, he places himself in the crosshairs of the island’s drug traffickers, who will do anything to protect their secrets.

Out of Kindness is a thriller about grief and isolation, swirling in the backdrop of the opioid epidemic, on one of the most hauntingly beautiful islands on Earth.

PURCHASE LINKS:
SUNBURY PRESS | AMAZON

JA Walsh (Author)AUTHOR BIO:

J.A. Walsh worked in intelligence and counter-terrorism after the 9/11 attacks, before embarking on a career advising the U.S. military on energy security strategy. He has degrees in Russian, English literature, and Environmental Law. He and his family split time between Lake Norman, North Carolina and the Florida Keys. Learn more at JAWalsh.com

WEBSITE | TWITTER


I love the location of this one. The story definitely sounds like one to sink your reading chops into, don’t you think? J.A. will be dropping by to say hello, so be sure to let him know your thoughts in the comments. We’d both be delighted if you’d use the sharing buttons to spread the word about Out of Kindness. Thank you for visiting today!

Book Spotlight: Dead on the Delta @KnowltonSBooks @SunburyPress #suspense #thriller

An open book with rays and orbs of light shooting from the pages

Hi, friends. Welcome to another Book Spotlight, featuring author Sherry Knowlton of Sunbury Press. Sunbury is a traditional publishing house not far from my location in Pennsylvania. I’ve agreed to share books from their authors that align with the interests of my blog readers—mostly mystery, suspense, thriller, and supernatural-themed works.

Today, I’m spotlighting, Dead on the Delta. Take a look and let me know what you think in the comments below. Please drop Sherry a “hello” as well. She’ll be popping in to chat. I love the setting she chose for this novel. What do you think? Exotic, much? 🙂


Book cover for Dead on the Delta by Sherry Knowlton shows lie lying in grass

Book Blurb:
Alexa Williams is about to spend four months doing lion research in the African bush with her boyfriend Reese. She looks forward to witnessing the elemental life and death struggle of the wild, but she never imagines she’ll become one of the hunted on the remote Okavango Delta.

Botswana protects its wildlife with strict policies and an entire army deployed to combat poaching. So Alexa and Reese are shocked when poachers wipe out an entire herd of elephants. At the site of the mass slaughter near their lion project, they promise authorities that they’ll watch for suspicious activity as they travel the Delta.

When the country’s strict wildlife conservation policies come under debate in the capital, tensions flare and Alexa begins to suspect the ongoing poaching incidents may be about even more than the illicit ivory trade. Especially when a close friend dies when caught in the crossfire.

After an alarming series of near escapes, gunmen attack the safari camp where she and Reese are staying, and Alexa must brave wild animals and the dangerous labyrinth of Delta channels in a desperate attempt to save the hostages, including the man she loves.

Book Links:
Sunbury Press | Amazon

Author, Sherry Knowlton

Author Bio:
Sherry Knowlton is the author of the Alexa Williams suspense series, including Dead of Spring and Dead of Winter. Passionate about books at an early age, she was that kid who would sneak a flashlight to bed at night so she could read beneath the covers. All the local librarians knew her by name. When not writing the next Alexa Williams thriller, Knowlton works with her health care consulting business or travels around the world. She and her husband live in the mountains of Southcentral Pennsylvania.

Author website

Book Reviews: Gideon’s Corpse by Preston and Child, The Betrayed Wife by Kevin O’Brien

Hi, friends. I hope you had an enjoyable weekend and that your Tuesday is off to a good start. We had friends over on Friday for a small pool party then spent our weekend gearing up for a family reunion we’re hosting this coming weekend.

We had a scare on Saturday when we walked out front and realized our door was standing open. It was a windy day and when I opened it (about twenty minutes earlier) I must not have shut it tightly. The problem is I have a totally indoor cat. To say that I was spastic is putting it mildly. I looked all over for Raven, starting with her “safe spot” under our bed then went room to room while hubby looked outside. Five minutes of frantic searching without results and I was on the verge of blubbering. I decided to take one more look under the bed and there she was, tucked at the end, blissfully unaware I was seconds from a meltdown. Needless to say, she has been getting lots of extra fussing and cuddles.

And now on to this week’s book reviews, both of which garner five big glitzy stars from me.

Book cover for Gideon's Corpse by Preston & Child shows title in large lettering overlaying a file with tear, nuclear symbol in backgroundGideon’s Corpse
by Preston & Child
If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’re probably aware I’m a HUGE fan of the writing team of Preston and Child. Gideon’s Corpse is the second novel in the Gideon Crew series (currently at five novels). I read the first when it was released a few years ago but wasn’t immediately smitten. Then a certain someone (ahem…Marcia) convinced me I needed to give book two a try.

Dr. Gideon Crew is a unique combination of con artist, ex-professional thief, and brilliant physicist. Recruited by a mysterious and powerful organization to run interference in impossible situations he routinely lands in a melting pot of danger. In Gideon’s Corpse, Crew finds himself acting as a liaison to the FBI when a former colleague and top nuclear scientist takes a family hostage at gunpoint. The outcome leads to a terrorist plot to vaporize a major American city in ten days—and the clock is ticking.

I remembered very little about the first in the series but had zero difficulty falling into the story. It starts off with a bang (the hostage situation) and moves at a blistering pace. Gideon pairs up with a strait-laced FBI agent. Much of the fun of the novel is watching the two work together, gaining respect for the other’s methods and for each other.

Clues build in a clever, twisty manner but just when you think you know where the plot is headed it does a complete 180 leading to an explosive, action-packed conclusion.

If you like your characters with a mix of trickster and quick-thinking brilliance, Gideon Crew is your man. He has a good heart, sometimes makes stupid mistakes, but somehow always manages to land on his feet. I will definitely be reading the rest in this series (thank you, Marcia!). Preston and Child once again deliver the kind of intelligent thriller that has become their trademark.

Amazon Link
Genre: Terrorism Thrillers > Medical Thrillers


Book cover for The Betrayed Wife by Kevin O'Brien shows the face and neck of a blond-haired woman from the nose downThe Betrayed Wife
by Kevin O’Brien

I can always count on Kevin O’Brien to deliver a juicy thriller, and he does not disappoint with his latest, The Betrayed Wife. This book has it all­—a not-so-perfect marriage, illicit affairs, dark family secrets, suspicious deaths, and an illegitimate child.

Shelia O’Rouke has had to overlook a number of her husband’s indiscretions, so when sixteen-year-old Eden shows up claiming to be his daughter, Shelia tries to make the best of it. She welcomes the girl into her home and encourages her three children to do the same. But Eden has an insolent attitude and a creepy boyfriend. It isn’t long before things start to go horribly wrong. Someone tampers with the breaks on Shelia’s car, rigs her washer so that she is almost electrocuted, and tries to poison her. An obnoxious tenant moves into the house next door, and an anonymous caller starts sending Shelia and her teenage son, Steve, mysterious texts. O’Brien has a knack for writing teenagers, and he juggles several successfully in this novel.

As usual, the deftly-orchestrated plot serves up plenty of misdirection to keep the reader guessing. Although I did (eventually) decipher the ending and motive prior to the conclusion, I followed several false trails before putting the pieces together. There are characters to hate, characters to love, and a multi-layered mystery that ties up neatly at the end. Riveting from start to finish, the book works as a psychological thriller, domestic thriller, and page-turning suspense novel. Finished in two sittings and highly recommended!

Amazon Link
Genre:  Domestic Thrillers > Serial Killer Thrillers

July Book Reviews, Part One @rijanjks @Wendy_Walker @riley_sager

It’s been hot. Extremely hot. We’ve had heat indexes topping 110. A few days ago the standard temperature was 99. My pool (at night) was 91.5. How warped is that?

As a result, I didn’t get to float on a raft and devour novels as much as I would have liked because the sun was blistering. I did, however, get to read several great tales before the sun turned toxic (see below). Click the Amazon link for the blurbs and  learn more about each title.

The first three are novellas, perfect for reading on coffee or lunch breaks. All selections are 5-star reads, so dig in!


Book cover for Voodoo or Destiny by Jan Sikes shows homemade voodoo doll with button eyes, stuck with pinsVoodoo or Destiny, You Decide
by Jan Sikes

Claire and her friend, Jade (who is descended from a New Orleans voodoo queen) are having a girls night with several bottles of wine. Jade is there to cheer up her friend who was recently dumped by her husband, Daniel, for a younger woman. Fueled by too much alcohol, the two friends decide to even the playing field by causing Daniel heartache. Jade suggests a voodoo doll ceremony and Claire hops on board. But the next morning, while dealing with a hangover, Clair receives shocking and unexpected news.

An entertaining short story that allows the reader to draw their own conclusion.

Amazon Link
Genre:  Occult Fiction > Occult Fiction > Short Reads


Look cover for Jewel by Jan Sikes shows attractive young woman in evening gown in front of dilapidated old shackJewel
by Jan Sikes

I loved this story. Jewel is an innocent young girl just shy of 18 who has spent her entire life living in poverty. When her mother, struggling to raise Jewel and Jewel’s younger sister, Sara Sue on her own, becomes terminally ill, she makes arrangements for both girls to have a shot at a better life. For Jewel that includes an education in the ways of the world, men, and love.

If you like Cinderella stories, tales of love and sacrifice, this short story will warm your heart. Beautifully rendered and told, the HEA ending is a sweet wrap.

Amazon Link
Genre: Contemporary Short Stories > Women’s Short Stories


book cover for A Soldier's Children by Jan Sikes shows close up of one side of a young girl's faceA Soldier’s Children
by Jan Sikes

A lovely story that takes the reader from hardship to a well deserved HEA.

Fourteen year-old Jennifer is doing her best to care for her younger sister, hold down a part time job, and attend school—all because their mother deserted them, running off with a man she recently met. Their father has been MIA in Afghanistan for a number of years, leaving Jennifer no choice but to take on the role of provider if she wants to keep her and her sister out of “the system.”

The story starts off with a bang. Jennifer’s sister, Emily has gone missing at the amusement park where Jennifer works part time. The resolution to that scare is both sweet and heart wrenching, setting up a string of dominos that put the sisters closer and closer to being discovered. How long can Jennifer get away saying her mother is out of town, or home sick in bed? Although this is a short read, the ending is guaranteed to leave you with a smile and plenty of warm fuzzies. Most enjoyable!

Amazon Link
Genre: Short Stories > Fiction Short Stories


Book cover for The Night Before by Wendy Walker shows close up of woman's face, one half natural, the other half overlaid by murky blue tintThe Night Before
by Wendy Walker

Laura and her sister, Rosie, along with Joe and Gabe, all grew up in the same neighborhood, tight friends from early childhood. Rosie and Joe are now married with a toddler, and Gabe has married. After her most recent relationship ends badly, Laura moves into her sister’s home to recover. It isn’t long before she connects with “Jonathan,” a man from an online site and agrees to a date. When she doesn’t return home the next morning, Rosie fears the worst.

What sets this slick page turner apart from others in a similar vein is that Rosie’s concern isn’t only for her sister. If the date went bad, she’s also terrified what Laura might have done to Jonathan. That unexpected curveball sold me on the book, and I was not disappointed.

When she was a teen, Laura’s boyfriend, Mitch, was bludgeoned to death during a party. The events of the night have always been murky, though a homeless man with a mental disability was eventually convicted of the crime. Even so, suspicion has hung over Laura given she was found standing beside Mitch’s body, a baseball bat in her hand, blood on her clothing. Combined with a rough-and-tumble childhood and her own doubts about what she did that night, she has been trapped in a downward spiral ever since.

The story alternates between Laura’s first person POV during her date with Jonathan, Rosie’s third person POV as she, Joe, and Gabe frantically search for Laura, and transcripts of Laura’s sessions with her psychologist. There are plenty of false leads to make the reader think they’ve figured things out, several jaw-dropping moments, and enough plot twists to make this work as both a psychological thriller and a twisty whodunit. It’s hard to say more without giving away spoilers, but suffice to say I was riveted from page one and devoured this book in a single night. Highly recommended!

Amazon Link
Genre: Psychological Thrillers > Domestic Thrillers


Book cover for Lock Every Door by Riley Sager shows old fashioned door open to room, silhouette of woman fleeing in backgroundLock Every Door
by Riley Sager

Riley Sager is one of my auto-buy authors. He’s mesmerized me before, but he hit it out of the ballpark with his latest release.

Jules has had a string of bad luck, starting with getting laid off from her job, followed by discovering her live-in boyfriend banging another woman. She ends up near penniless, sleeping on her BFF’s sofa until she finds a classified ad for an apartment sitter. $12,000 to occupy a luxury apartment in the Bartholomew—a New York high society landmark—for three months. It sounds too good to be true, especially given the building is the fairy-tale setting of a novel that bound Jules and her sister as teens.

The rules are bizarre. Among other things, no visitors and no sharing any information about the residents who live in the Bartholomew, but Jules is too desparate to give them a second thought. Not long after she’s in the apartment, more luxurious than she could have imagined, she realizes something is not quite right. Previous “apartment sitters” have gone missing, one of the current sitters hints all is not as it seems, and the woman who wrote the novel she and her sister loved as teens is—surprise!—a resident.

The “big reveal” is a blind-side from left field, nothing I would have ever seen coming. Sager uses history, both fake and real to weave a tale that feels urgent and present-day as well as dusty with the footprints of a faded yesteryear. An intoxicating tapestry every bit as formidable as the bizarre wallpaper in Jules apartment in the Bartholomew. Extra points for the atmospheric use of the building’s gargoyles. Superb!

Amazon Link
Genre: Women’s Crime Thrillers > Ghost Thrillers


This week is supposed to be mildly cooler so perhaps I will be reading poolside again. Either way, I’ll have a second round of reviews shortly. In the meantime, I hope you found something to pique your interest. Happy reading!