Category Archives: Thriller & Suspense

Fiction that causes suspense (but not horror) usually concerning unresolved crimes. Includes crime fiction, whodunnits, legal thrillers, murder mystery, courtoom dramas, gangster fiction, detective stories.

Oxblood by Grant

OXBLOODVictoria Asher and her older brother are untimely orphans when their parents die in a plane crash.

The Victoria Asher Novels
by AnnaLisa Grant
Open Road Media Teen & Tween
September 2016

After a settlement and after her brother is old enough to take custody of her, Victoria finds herself on her own for a summer while her brother is on a work assignment. When she receives a package with his journal and the word “oxblood” she comes to believe he’s in trouble. When she calls around looking for him she can’t find him anywhere – it’s clear he hasn’t been honest about what he was doing in Italy.

Victoria travels to Italy to find her brother [SPOILER] only to find herself in front of a man who works for interpol, where apparently her brother was working to combat sex trafficking. She joins the team to find her brother and stop the criminals. [END SPOILERS]

There are a lot of plot twists to keep the young reader interested. Comedy and a little bit of romance as well. Victoria Asher is a good heroine – fearless, smart and tenacious. Only a few minor cuss words are spoken by the bad guys.

Overall a fun, clean novel for middle schoolers aged 14 and up.

Freckles is a long suffering wife of twenty years and mother of four children in every stage of adolescence who enjoys coffee and silence. She gets coffee sometimes.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Prime Suspects by Bernheimer

primeA fun hard boiled whodunit with a protagonist who plays the part well while waiting to wake up from the nightmare he finds himself in: he’s a clone. The 42nd clone in his line. His “Prime” or the human who he and his brothers are cloned from has been killed. By one of his brothers. Since he was literally born today, he’s the only non-suspect among them.

Prime Suspects
A Clone Detective Mystery
EJB Networking
by Jim Bernheimer
read by Jeffrey Kafer
August 2012

While there is some interesting world building going on here, the main thing that sets this book apart from so many other sci fi novels is that it is fun! Not kitschy or corny fun. It’s solidly rooted in Maltese Falcon-esque detective stories but constant references to Hitchikers, in jokes and the extremely fast pace had me hooked from the start. I’m actually reading another science fiction suspense story by an author that I really enjoy – I’m enjoying that book as well – but when I had to make time for one of them I chose this one. In fact, I chose this one and listened to the whole audio in only a couple days.

I don’t know if there are other books in this series or world, but it is ripe for others. The clone economy is something I haven’t read before and was well done. I’ll definitely check out more books from this author.

A note about the audio version: Jeffrey Kafer was great! His quick, flat and sometimes monotone detective voice fit the mold of how I expected 42 to speak. The one thing I would have liked is a slightly longer pause when moving through a break. Chapter breaks were clear, but internal breaks (where you’d see a couple of blank lines in the text allowing the story to quickly progress or change to another location or character) weren’t. So occasionally, I’d find the story going in a new direction and not understand what was happening at first. One more beat of silence would have been perfect.

Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Under Dark Skies by Scudiere

darkskiesEleri Eames, an ex-profiled for the FBI, and Dr. Donovan Heath, medical examiner, have been recruited by Senior Agent In Charge Westerfield to become members of the elite special ops NIGHTSHADE. Eames jumped at the chance to become part of the team. Dr. Heath is branching out. He has become bored with his position as medical examiner and being out in the sunshine.

Under Dark Skies
Nightshade Forensic Files 1
A. J. Scudiere
Griffyn Ink
November 2014

Their first assignment is to locate a Cult Leader and his City of God believed to be somewhere in the vast land of Texas… They are also charged with finding the missing daughter of a very prominent FBI Agent. Eames has been assigned Lead Agent with Heath as her partner. She isn’t sure she can handle this especially with a green agent fresh out of the Academy. She has never been a lead agent before. Well time will tell. So she and Heath pack their bags and head for Texas.

The FBI believes the leader of this cult is a psychopath known as Joseph Hayden Baxter. He had several run-in with the law in his youth, but seems to have dropped off the grid. The city is believed to be somewhere in a small town around Dallas or San Antonio, but no one knows for sure since they haven’t had any siting of Baxter or the City.

Days of traveling back roads and staying in less than desirable motels turn up absolutely nothing. Westerfield is getting discouraged. His veiled instructions is to find Baxte soon, eliminate him and he doesn’t care how they do it. Through diligently working almost day and night they may have come across a lead, Heath has persuades Eames to let him go on a recon mission on his own as maybe they have pinpointed where the City might be located. This way he can use his secret and no one will be the wiser. He does locate what he believes is the City, but most importantly, he runs across an injured young boy trying to escape the City. They now have their first real lead.

The City starts bleeding people fleeing from the City looking for medical attention. Bodies are turning up by the dozens. Eames has discovered Heath’s secret. She confesses she has a secret of her own which could probably help them locate Baxter, but she is reluctant to use is as she had formerly divulged her secret which landed her an insane institution for three months. Eames needs advise so she introduces to her friend, an ex-FBI Agent. Heath cannot believe what he learns. Her friend is exactly like him. Are all of the NIGHTSHADE agents and ex-agents ODD? Were he and Eames recruited for their oddity? He is beginning to think so.

The location and invasion of the CITY OF GOD lead Eames and Heath on this really exciting, intriguing and dangerous assignment. Ms. Scudiere keeps you turning pages and glued to your chair as you take the journey with Eames and Heath. Will they succeed in eliminating Baxter and his City Of God? Ms. Scudiere is an excellent writer. She brings her characters to life right before your eyes. You feel as if you are walking each step with them as they complete their first assignment as a team. Ms. Scudiere’s books are keepers. If you are not a fan, you will be after your first book.

Highly recommended. Suggest you read all of Ms. Scudier’s book. You will be glad you did. CAN’T WAIT UNTIL BOOK NUMBER TW0 OF NIGHTSHADE IS PUBLISHED!

The Golden Reviewer, is an 80 something year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of fiction on top..

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

If I Run by Blackstock

IfIRunCasey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested… or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

If I Run
Terry Blackstock
February 2016

But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

My thoughts: What a wonderful book. It’s always so hard to find a good Christian suspense book that is well written. Terri Blackstock does it with such skill that keeps you going back for more of her books.

This time I think the author has out done herself. I loved, “If I Run”. I think it’s her best yet. Not only do I think this is her best but, the style of writing is completely different than any of her other books she has written. She wrote the story from a first person pretense going back and forth from the main characters Casey and Dylan. I have read books in this style before but, it didn’t work in my opinion and I was disappointed.

Terri made it feel as if you are the character and all the action going on. The plot, suspense, characters, and the surrounding just hit the mark right on. Lots of twist and turns and you didn’t know what to expect next. I was hooked from the first page and read the book in two days. I could have easily finished it in a day but, life happens and a mom has to take care of family.

This is defiantly one of my top favorite books. The ending is a complete cliff hanger. I hate cliff hanger as it makes me wait for the next book to come out. As far as cliff hangers go it was not what I expected considering all the events that lead up to the last page.

Terri thank you for an amazing story-you have outdid yourself. I can’t wait for the next story in this sequel.

ReneeK is a sweet tea addicted mamma who loves to cuddle up to a good book. She blogs at Little Homeschool on the Praire and writes about family, homeschooling, having a special needs child, and about whatever else tickles her fancy.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Eighth Day by John

eighthShawn Jaffe had just talked to the man staring with dead eyes at the ceiling with the bullet hole in his chest. He had said, “Nothing you know is real” (p2), which would have been easy to ignore if not for his sudden murder.

The Eighth Day
by Joseph John
Obsidian Dawn
April 2016

[SLIGHT SPOILERS] The events in the café set in motion a series of intriguing and frustrating attempts by Jaffe and Detective Harrington to figure out what was going on. Bodies disappear. Attempts are made on their lives. Lives are digitally erased. And then an unthinkable murder / suicide takes place and it all unravels even more. [END SPOILERS]

Part detective and part science fiction, John’s novel is the written equivalent of a Bruckheimer popcorn summer movie. It’s fast, moves faster, and includes lots of “on screen” violence. John does an excellent job keeping the reader guessing and even when we understand we are still engaged in the resolution – one that is highly satisfying in terms of pure aggression and excitement.

It is surprising to find a novel by a first time author that has the polish this one does. It’s slick and easy to read, deftly builds a world 25 years in the future, including future past events without being heavy handed about them. Some things may not fit exactly (will we still carry physical mobile phones in 25 years? Probably not) but it flows easily. There isn’t much work to imagine this world of the future, which allows the reader to enjoy the show without getting bogged down.

This is a very strong first novel. Science Fiction and action fans of summer blockbusters will definitely enjoy it.

Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Justice by Scudiere

JusticeSin is a warrior, a trained assassin, a former police officer and the daughter of a Crime Lord.
In Book 1 Vengeance, Sin’s family is assassinated by the Kurevs Crime Family, leaving she and her sister alone. At age 12, Sin swore vengeance on the entire family. She would kill each and every person in the family and in the worse way possible. Thus, Sin began her training to become the best and seek her revenge.

The Sin Trilogy 3
A. J. Scudiere
Gryffin Ink
October 2015

In Book 2 Retribution, Sin meets and teams up with Lee. As a team they become unstoppable. No one even remotely connected with the Kurevs family is safe from them. These assassinations drew the attention of FBI Special Agent Owen Dunham who spent his entire career trying to capture them. He dubbed them the “Red Ribbon Bandits” as they always left their victims tied up in a big red bow, Sin and Lee eventually fell of the grid and retired to a small cabin in the mountains in a place that doesn’t exist on any map. They continued to train and hone their skills just in case they were every located.

In Book 3 Justice, Sin and Lee’s quiet lives take a very unexpected turn. In the middle of the night two trained assassins invade the cabin. Sin escapes but Lee is no where to be found. Sin visits all the places they were to meet should they ever be detected, but Lee is not any of these places. Sin must located Lee at all cost. His very live depends on it. This is a job, however, that she can’t do alone. She must seek help. Perhaps her brother Nick will help. She has keep in touch with him in the past and at one time worked together as Police Officers for a small community. Nick is the head of a rival crime family, but no one is aware of this, and he is also one of the Kurevs family as they all have the same father. Perhaps ex-Special Agent Owen Dunham would help, but how could she contact him and still remain free to look for Lee? Agent Dunham had retired, stopped looking for her and became a friend of sorts.

Their efforts to locate Lee leads to an interesting, intriguing and exciting journey. Sin is aware that the remaining Kurevs brothers are her brothers as well as Nick’s , but this makes no differences to Sin. She will locate Lee and terminate the brothers or die trying. She must find Lee alive and tell him the good news. She is pregnant. Will Lee be pleased or dismayed? Their live is no life for a child.

Will Sin, Nick and Owen Dunham locate Lee in time to save his life or will they all die at the hands of assassins sent by the Kruevs brothers? Read this intriguing, page turner book to find the answers.
Ms. Scudiere is an excellent writer. She keeps you on the tip of your seat, reading far into the night. Her books are ones that you have a hard time putting down and will remember long after you have finished them, These books are keepers for sure. Can’t wait for Book 4 in the Sin Trilogy.

I recommend you read the following books written by A. J. Scudiere and my review of them. If you are not a fan of Scudiere you will be after reading her books.

The Golden Reviewer, is an 80 something year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of fiction on top..

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Nooks & Crannies by Lawson

nooksFlavia. Wonka. Fun.

Nooks & Crannies
Written by Jessica Lawson
Narrated by Susan Riddell
Dreamscape Media
June 2015

Tabitha Crum, an abused (although she doesn’t know it) and neglected child, is selected to visit a prestigious manor and a reclusive benefactor, Countess Camilla DeMoss, but doesn’t know why. Five other kids are brought as well as their parents for an unknown reason, with unknown possibilities. When someone turns up dead, this shy girl turns full Clue and sets out to solve the case.

This story is very much Flavia De Luce (by Alan Bradley) and the Chocolate Factory. The roadmap to the story has been done again and again. Child detective (from England, of course,) solves a mystery and passes tests for an unknown, but important rich person with a new future in the balance. That said, Jessica Lawson does it well. Tabitha is very likeable and easy to empathize with. The children are interesting. Her pet mouse, Pemberley, is cute and different. All to say that, while this is familiar, it is worth reading.

Susie Riddell does a great job as the reader. She hits just the right notes to bring alive the inner life of Tabitha and her cheekiness as well. Characters are easy to differentiate and the story moves quickly.

Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

bonesofyouThe Andersons are the perfect family. Loving father, devoted wife, impeccably behaved daughters. Then Rosie, their older daughter, goes missing, only to be found murdered. The perfect image of their lives begins to unravel, leading to deep secrets no one is prepared to learn.

The Bones of You
by Debbie Howells
Kensington Books
July 2015

Kate learns that Rosie is missing from her friend Jo, Rosie’s mother.  In an effort to be supportive, Kate reaches out to a woman she only knows on the surface.   Kate finds herself drawn into the mystery surrounding Rosie’s death, only later to be shocked by the truth.

This novel is another entry into the category of flashback novels.  They story alternates between Kate’s present and the deceased Rosie’s past musings.  It is, sadly, a poor man’s The Lovely Bones.

I could never really get into any of Kate’s chapters.  I kept waiting for her to develop as a character, to become more than what she does.  She starts naive, trusting, unsure that what she’s learning is real.  She ends naive, trusting, unsure that what she’s learned is real.   She never develops and excuses the killer’s behavior in the end (no spoilers, I promise!).

Rosie’s chapters are better.  Unfortunately, these chapters make the disparity between the two characters even more painfully evident.  It’s almost like two different people were writing the book.  Where Kate never really changes, Rosie (albeit dead) develops and grows into her own through her narrative.

In the end, save the time.  Read The Lovely Bones instead.   This novel, sadly, left me feeling quite flat.

Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at She currently spends her days wrangling her 8 year old science nerd and 10 month old busy body.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

blackeyedTessa is the lone survivor of a serial killer. The only Susan to survive several brutal murders. She helped put the killer behind bars. Years later, as his execution date approaches, Tessa finds messages left for her. Is the wrong man behind bars?

Black-Eyed Susans
by Julia Heaberlin
Ballentine Books
June 2015

 At seventeen years old, Tessa was subjected to pain and torture, left blinded by psychosis, and survived the rampage of a serial killer.  She fought to put the pieces of her life back together, slowly but surely.  She’s even been able to heal enough to have her own daughter.

Many times over the years, Tessa was approached by an inmate’s advocate who questioned the guilt of the man sentenced for the crimes.  It’s not until his exectution approaches that Tessa also begins to question.  And she only questions based on “gifts” that are being left for her.

I really wanted to like this.  The premise seemed solid, as did the characters.  The flaw in Julia Heaberlin’s novel is really in the formatting.  I don’t mind flashbacks as a general rule.  However, every other chapter in this novel flashes back to Tessa’s past, followed by a chapter in present day.  This continues through the entire book.

After a few chapters, it gets cumbersome to wade through.  I want to be able to enjoy fiction and focus on the building suspense in thrillers.  For me, this jumping back and forth only served as a disruption, never really allowing that suspense to build.

In the end, it became so disruptive to me that I couldn’t finish the novel.   I wasn’t left like I NEEDED to find out what happened.

So I didn’t.

Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at She currently spends her days wrangling her 8 year old science nerd and 7 month old busy body.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Firewall by DiAnn Mills

firewallCan Agent Grayson and Taryn Young put aside their differences and work together to save thousands of American lives?

DiAnn Mills
Tyndale House

Taryn Young, a software developer, is on her way to her dream honeymoon when a bomb destroys the airport terminal, killing dozens. Injured, she wakes up at the hospital. After learning that she and her husband are prime suspects, she decides to takes matters into her own hands and clear their name. Agent Grayson Halls wants to find those responsible for the attack at all means, but upon looking at the beautiful women suspected of the attack he can’t seem to believe she is responsible. Then watching her confusion and bewilderment of her learning that her husband isn’t who he said he was, confirms it more. Is she innocent or just pretending? What exactly are the bombers after? How does she fit in? These are the questions that the FBI and Agent Grayson are scrambling to answer. But when her life and thousands of American lives are put on the line, will they put their differences aside and work together to unravel the plot and work out their growing attraction?

This was a mystery thriller impossible to put down. The story is filled with suspense, mystery, acts of valor, surprising betrayals, forgiveness, and courage, sprinkled with a little romance. The book moves fast and has plenty of twists and turns. This book will keep you drawn from beginning to end. If you like a good thriller this is the book for you.

Myra Ovalle is your average typical girl. She loves to read. Her favorite types of books are historical fiction, biblical fiction and action adventure fiction. She would love to share her love of books and all the wonderful books she have read with you. Check out her new blog: From a Book Worm To You

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.