Loose Ends: A Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mystery, Book One

loose ends

By: Terri Reid

Narrated by: Erin Spencer

Series: A Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mystery

GoodReads Summary: Dying is what changed Mary O’Reilly’s life. Well, actually, coming back from the dead and having the ability to communicate with ghosts is really what did it.

Now, a private investigator in rural Freeport, Illinois, Mary’s trying to learn how to incorporate her experience as a Chicago cop and new-found talent into a real job. Her challenge is to solve the mysteries, get real evidence (a ghost’s word just doesn’t hold up in court), and be sure the folks in town, especially the handsome new police chief, doesn’t think she’s nuts.

Twenty-four years ago, a young woman drowned in the swimming pool of a newly elected State Senator. It was ruled an accident. But now, as the Senator prepares to move on to higher positions, the ghost of the woman is appearing to the Senator’s wife.

Mary is hired to discover the truth behind the death. She unearths a connection between the murder and the disappearance of five little girls whose cases, twenty-four years later, are still all unsolved. As she digs further, she becomes the next target for the serial killers’ quest to tie up all his loose ends.

Ok, I’ll admit it. I picked this up from one of my free lists. I can’t remember when or which one, I’ve had this on my TBR list for so freakin’ long. Somewhere along the line, I added narration for the low, low price of $1.99. So I paid $2 and change for the opportunity to listen to this.

I think the cover appealed to me. I think the summary appealed to me. After listening to the sample clip a few dozen times, the narrator didn’t do that much for me. She didn’t make me want to listen to the book. I think I finally got it because I was running out of daytime listening. (Deep, rumbling male voices for night / Bright, upbeat female for day.)

Hell, even the first chapter kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Erin Spencer didn’t impress me as the narrator to enhance the dark and creepy.

But to be honest…the blend of Terri Reid’s writing and Erin Spencer as Mary O’Reilly…well, that’s just gold.

By the third chapter, I was hooked. By the end, I’d acquired an appreciation for the voice I hadn’t liked to start with. Erin Spencer is Mary O’Reilly. (Please don’t let me find out somewhere in the middle of freakin’ 15 books that someone else narrates this series.)

Add the ghosts, the devastatingly handsome police chief, a chewy mystery or two and that’s a recipe for a good afternoon (doing dishes, folding clothes…not stopping the cleaning because you’d have to take out your earbuds to do anything else….)

This is not your typical female running headlong into danger. This is not one where the gorgeous guy saves the day. This is different.

(Yeah, I knew what was what way before the end. It’s the journey getting there that I enjoyed.)

Hell, I enjoyed the whole experience so much, I’ve already purchased the next book. Guess what I’m doing tomorrow…. Well, the house is pretty much clean so yardwork?

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The Experiment of Dreams

the experiment of dreams

By: Brandon Zenner

Narrated by: Jim Tedder

GoodReads Summary: Benjamin Walker’s lifelong career of testing experimental drugs and medicines, as well as participating in fascinating sleep-related studies, has come to an end. A new and lucrative job opportunity is offered to Ben, working on a project named Lucy, a machine capable of reading and recording a person’s dreams in intimate detail. All is finally going well for Ben . . . until strange dreams of a town named Drapery Falls begin to plague him, and memories once hidden begin to reveal themselves. The doctors and staff onboard team Lucy are not who Ben thinks they are, and Mr. Kalispell will stop at nothing to keep Ben’s emerging memories buried for good. Ben is put on a collision course that will bring him to the brink of total insanity, and perhaps even death. At the heart of it all, Ben’s worst enemy is his own mind, and he must confront his past in order to save his future. The twist and turns in The Experiment of Dreams will keep you guessing, down to the very last line.

This book repeatedly appeared in my recommendations on every site: Audible, Amazon, GoodReads, ets. So after reading and re-reading the summary, I think I purchased it when it was free something like a year and  a half ago. I still didn’t find the urge to sit down and read the thing.

Then I found it on Kindle Unlimited with narration. So, ok, I borrowed it and dove in.

Just like all the other three star and below reviews, I was very interested in the very beginning. Even with Ben sort of shrugging his shoulders at the hinky stuff and pressing the accelerator without too much introspection and curiosity, I was kind of ok with that. I mean, you have to put aside your disbelief sometimes, right?

The machine itself, Lucy? Well, scientists have been trying to build something like that for a while now, especially since those things have appeared in several movies over the past 50 years or so. I can wrap my mind around it easy.

So the first half of the book is beautiful, aside from the easy way Ben has of sliding into this strangeness in the first place. The descriptions are surreal, just like the cover. I liked it.

However, it starts flailing around the second half where suddenly we’re in the middle of so much exposition it felt like an historical text. I did like the twistiness of the end, but probably could have done without the character monologues telling me what happened.

So I’m hovering right about three stars despite the fact that I love the premise. Because who needs to make themselves finish a book when you’ve already figured out the ending and all the characters are doing is telling you in a very long winded fashion that you’re right?

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When She Cries

when she cries

By: Alex Westhaven

Narrated by: Kevin Clay

GoodReads Summary: Nicole Strickly is excited to get out of the city and spend a weekend in the mountains, even if her date is a little sketchy. They aren’t far down the road before she realizes her mistake, but there’s no turning back, and what awaits her when they arrive at camp is far worse than she could ever have imagined.

Forced to run or die, Nicole finds herself embroiled in a gruesome game where the only reward for winning is three more rounds with the huntmaster himself, and an experience that will change the fiber of her very being…for as long as she can survive.

*** – technically 3.5 stars

(I received a free audible copy for an honest review.)

Serial hunters call it a game….

I don’t know where or when the idea of hunting people first slid into a human, but it is a subject that inspires a certain kind of panic. Stuck in the wilds, the higher brain functions of a human can help befuddle any predatory animal and allow for escape. But when the predator is just as high functioning as the human prey, the idea of escape becomes an illusory goal.

I like the narration of When She Cries. It was easy to lose track of time listening to the story. However, I don’t think that Mr. Clay fully utilized the emotions inherent in the writing. While his voice is pleasant and easy to listen to, it might have been better with a few speed differentials within the different scenes.

Of course, some of the dialogue between the characters did feel somewhat stilted and may have influenced Mr. Clay while he read. I rolled my eyes a few times during Nicole’s inner monologues. Not as often as I expected, but a few times where it just seemed a bit forced into the plot rather than fluidly deriving from the character herself.

Because of these thoughts while I read, I did not feel the fear and panic intended by Mrs. Westhaven. But the story and narration is good enough that I really wanted to know how it ended.

And the end is worth gliding along Mr. Clay’s voice and slipping into Mrs. Westhaven’s mind. The end is very satisfying.

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Have You Seen My Son?

have you seen my son

By: Jack Olsen

Narrated by: Becket Royce

GoodReads Summary: Have You Seen My Son? is a powerful novel of child-snatching and a mother’s obsessed hunt for her five-year-old son — “a gripping, intensely moving novel,” writes Robert Daley, author of Prince of the City and Year of the Dragon. “The ending left me with tears in my eyes. There is no love like mother love, is there?”

And no greater test of it than what Lael Pritcher is about to endure.

One cool April day, Mike Pritcher visits the home of his estranged wife, Lael, and takes their son, Ace, for an overnight outing. “She pushed her son’s black-rimmed glasses up the slope of his thin nose. He jerked away like a puppy slipping its leash. A giggle, a crunch of gravel, a single wave of a grimy hand, and her only child was gone.”

Gone — child-snatched, though Lael won’t realize that right away, and won’t understand what it means even when the police tell her it’s a “domestic matter.” “You got the right to snatch him back,” her lawyer explains. “That’s about it.” So that’s what she sets out to do, in one of the most suspenseful, emotion-wrenching novels in recent years. Have You Seen My Son? is Lael Pritcher’s story, as she searches for her son throughout the Northwest, Canada and finally Mexico; an odyssey of near-misses and sudden reversals, searing loneliness and unshakable love, as Lael reaches deep inside herself for a resourcefulness and strength she never knew existed. Combining intimate drama with powerful suspense, this is a story with which every woman — and every man — will identify.

(I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.)

Considering this book was published in 1982, it should be seen as an example of the reasons we have new laws to protect children, even (especially) in the middle of custody battles.

Lael is very passive for a woman whose husband stole her asthmatic son in the middle of their divorce and custody proceedings. Of course, she does everything she can to get him back, which, at the time was very limited.

Because of that, the story seemed to lag a few times, her character making the story passive. However, you just can’t help pushing on as she does just to find out if she gets her son back.

Having said that, you must understand that even though I found this a very passive story (not the heart-stopping thriller I thought it would be) there were a few times I gasped aloud.

For an author to be able to do that makes it worth the listen.

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Bloody Bank Heist

bloody bank heist

By: Tim Miller

Narrated by: Joe Hempel

GoodReads Summary: Darren and Jenny are a hard working couple at the end of their rope. Out of money and out of options, they decide drastic measures are needed. They rob a bank when things go horribly wrong. Gunshots are fired and in order to escape, they must kidnap the hapless bank manager. Unfortunately for them, the manager is not what he seems. The kidnapping unleashes a chain of events they could have never imagined in their worst nightmares.

*** definitely twisted

(I received a free audible copy in exchange for an honest review.)

In this economy, I’m positive most of us have thought about robbing a bank, right? I mean, the money is insured; it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to plan…easy, peasy. But then, someone gets stupid. The getaway car gets away before the partners in the bank. Someone tries to be a hero and gets blasted in the face. And then, the thieves take a freakin’ hostage. Can’t go anymore wrong than this, right?

Wrong. This story will definitely make you think twice about committing a crime. The choices that are made in seconds are not always the best ones and the consequences can get even more deadly than anyone anticipates.

I quite enjoyed Mr. Miller’s twisted mind. It really feels as if this is the part you don’t see or read about when watching or reading about the people who do not have their heads on straight.

I gave it three stars because I liked it. Yet it definitely could have had more depth to balance out the insanity: more emotion, less stoic explanations for the reasons behind everything.

Here’s your warning: If you’re one of those who doesn’t like a little gore in their horror/mystery, please stay away. Bloody is in the title, for Pete’s sake.

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The Theseus Paradox by David Videcette – Review — David’s Book Blurg

Title – The Theseus Paradox Author – David Videcette Genre – Crime, Thriller. Length – 438 Pages Publication – Nov 2015 My Rating – 5/5 Stars Synopsis “I can’t tell you the truth, but I can tell you a story…” How much is fact and how much is fiction, only YOU can decide… ‘A chillingly credible tale based on […]

via The Theseus Paradox by David Videcette – Review — David’s Book Blurg

Southern Charm

southern charm

By: Stuart Jaffe

Narrated by: Stuart Jaffe

GoodReads Summary: When Max and the gang are hired by an art forging ghost to find a lost painting, Max thinks it’ll be easy money. But villains old and new come out, and the race is on for the painting and the secrets it contains. A race that will lead Max into a mess of magic spells, haunted houses, ancient curses, and even Blackbeard the Pirate.

Maybe I’m a little biased, but having listened to a few of Mr. Jaffe’s self-narrated books, I just like him. I like the stories. I like the narration. I keep an eye out for his books. I’m slowly building a collection. So what I’m trying to say is, go find Mr. Jaffe’s work. You will not be disappointed.

Max Porter is as addictive for me as Harry Dresden. And if Dresden were a bumbling amateur with no magic, they would be more similar.  Actually, the only comparable element is the fact that there are ghosts and witches in both. So, I’m not sure why I’m so addicted to each of these characters.

Max and Sandra’s relationship just gets better. By better, I mean that they recognize their issues. Most fictional couples faced with being together 24/7 revel in it. They just adore each other. Their relationships never falter. However, Max and Sandra (both of them!) understand that being together so much is not beneficial to any relationship, even their own.

I (almost) never have spoilers in my reviews, and I’m not going to start now. Just know that Drummond is the same hard-boiled ghost P.I. Some of the bad guys return to put a kink into things. And the difference between book one and book two, is a year, some soft cases behind them and the willingness to even help ghosts (but, of course, you knew that was coming just looking at the next books in the series).

I see subtle growth in Max Porter. He’s not quite the academic pansy he started out to be. His experience and instructions from Drummond give him just a bit more grit. I still see him in the traditional professor stereotype, nowhere close to the heroics of Indiana Jones, but this book shows that maybe he’s taken the pocket protector out and just risks the pen leakage.

Once again, I highly recommend the audio version of this. There’s nothing like a writer with a good voice and a superb audio producer giving life to a world of his own making.

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