Category Archives: early reviewers

Review: The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell

The Wife Who Knew Too MuchConnor Ford is the one itch that Tabitha Girard has never been able to resist scratching. It begins during their teenage years when Connor and Tabitha have a summer romance while she works as his grandmother’s country club. Connor’s grandmother doesn’t approve of the pairing and soon finds a way to break the two up.

Years later, Connor wanders into the restaurant/bar where Tabitha is waitressing, and the two attempt to pick up where they left off. The only things standing in their way are Tabitha’s recently released from jail ex-husband and Connor’s wealthy wife, who are suspects that Connor is stepping out on her. Thanks to an iron-clad prenup, if Connor leaves his wife, he loses everything.

So, when Connor’s wife turns up drowned in her swimming pool after a summer party and Tabitha reveals she’s expecting Connor’s child, suspicions begin to mount. After quickly and quietly marrying Connor, Tabitha begins to suspect that her new husband may be keeping secrets from her — deadly secrets. Continue reading


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Review: Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay

Disappearance at Devil's RockThinking her fourteen year-old son Tommy is spending the night at one of his best friend’s house, Elizabeth Sanderson in disturbed to receive a phone call saying her son has gone missing. As the shock sets in, Elizabeth can’t help but feel that history is repeating itself. Tommy’s father vanished in the night years before. Could it be that her son has followed in his father’s footsteps?

The answers are far more compelling and interesting than that and they make this book one that was, at times, next to impossible to put down. Add in an element of the potential supernatural and you’ve got the another winner from Paul Tremblay — an author who after reading just two of his books has been put onto my “must read anything he writes list” and whom I eagerly seeking you his back catalog.

Paul Tremblay’s Disappearance at Devil’s Rock starts with a heck of hook and doesn’t let up until the final page is turned. The question of how well you really know your kids and your family haunts every page of the novel and drives much of this superlatively told, suspenseful mystery. Like his earlier haunting A Head Full of Ghosts this is one of those novels that defies categorization beyond “a really good book that everyone should read.” Continue reading

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Review: Playdate

PlaydatePlaydate by Thelma Adams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lance is a former weatherman turned house-husband. His wife, Darlene, is busy opening up the first in what could be a chain of new restaurants targeted at working mothers.

The two have one child, sixth grader Belle. They’re considering having more and while Lance is excited, Darlene may not be as enthusiastic. She’s so driven by her job and starting up her business that she is slowly becoming disconnected from Lance and Belle. Meanwhile, Lance is connecting with other women in his life, included the wife of Darlene’s business partner and Julia, the babysitter who watches over the kids of the wife Lance is having an affair with.

Apparently, being the king of the Girl Scout cookies is quite the turn-on for some of the ladies in Lance’s life.

If it all sounds a bit complicated, it can be at times. But you won’t have any trouble keeping up with things in the story. Told over the course of three days, Thelma Adams’ “Playdate” fills in enough of the details to keep you interested but it doesn’t really break any new ground. The main question the novel ponders is how much do we all what we do to define a person or persons. The story could have been a bit better if had actually delved a bit deeper into the questions asked here, but the novel instead goes for humorous moments and brings everything together in a nice, neatly wrapped romantic comedy package in the final pages.

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“This Is Where I Leave You” by Jonathan Tropper

This Is Where I Leave YouJonathan Tropper has carved a niche for himself in the Nick Hornby corner of the literary world.  And on some level it would be easy to dismiss him as a imitator of Hornby if not for one simple thing–his novels are always so damn good.

“This Is Where I Leave You” is no exception.  In fact, it’s the novel that takes all the Troopper tropes and pulls them together in a fascinating new character examination novel that is both compulsively readable and utterly fascinating.

Judd Foxman is in his mid-30s and facing a crossroads.  He’s separated from his wife, who he caught in bed with his boss and radio shock-jock, on her birthday.  That led to him quitting his job and as he wiles away days in a basement apartment with nothing but a TV and a few random pieces of furniture to keep him company, he’s summoned home to sit shiva for his recently deceased father.  Apparently, it was dad’s dying wish for the family to sit shiva for him, something that none of the siblings are too thrilled about.  Seven days at home with family could and does bring up some family issues that have been lurking under the surface for years but no one has ever had the time or energy to dig up and resolve.

As if that weren’t enough, Judd’s wife announces she is pregnant and he runs into an old high school flame who he made a pact with that they’d get together at 40 if they weren’t married or significantly involved.

It sounds like a lot to juggle in one novel, but Tropper deftly juggles all the storylines into a coherent, funny and fascinating whole.  Weaving together the various threads of the past, present and potential future keep the page turning and Tropper utilizes well-placed flashbacks to reveal pertinent backstory at the right moment.  He makes it look effortless to sew in seeds of the story and then allow us to witness the actual events at just the right moment for both the readers and Judd.   The fact that Judd used to date the now-wife of his older brother pays an interesting and humorous dividend as well as an emotional one as the story unfolds.

In the week, revelations will come for many family members.  They all feel authentic as we take this journey with Judd and as you read the story, the title becomes more and more relevant to the story.  It was a story I didn’t want to end, but I can understand why Tropper chose this week-long snapshot of Judd and his family.  I wouldn’t mind a return visit in the future (which would be a first for Tropper).  That said, I did leave the novel satisfied with the journey and feeling like it reflected real life and that Judd was a living, breathing character.  Things don’t always wrap-up neatly or as expected.

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The Deceived by Brett Battles

Jonathan Quinn is a freelance cleaner and the man you call when you’ve got a mess than needs cleaning up. Quinn can get rid of any and all evidence and erase any trail that leads to you up to and including the disposal of a dead body.

When Quinn is called on to dispose of the body of a former associate and close friend Steven Markoff, Quinn takes it on himself to contact Markoff’s girlfriend, Jenny Fuentes. When he finds Jenny has disappeared, Quinn puts his skills and resources into finding out where Jenny is and what’s happened to her.

Battles writes a fast-paced, spy-thriller. Quinn is one part James Bond, one part Jason Bourne. The story moves along at a nice pace, giving us action pieces and suspense while keeping the clues coming at enough of a clip to keep you interested. As Quinn investigates the conspiracy and cover-ups, you’ll find yourself more and more intrigued by what’s happening and eager to find out the truth. And when Quinn does find out what’s going on, it’s brought together in a satisfying way.

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