Tuesday, June 19, 2018

YOU WERE MADE FOR THIS by Michelle Sacks



Sam and Merry left the busy life of New York City and were living the dream raising their infant son, Conner, in Sweden. At least that’s what they were telling themselves, and anyone else who would listen. But the long winters and slower-paced atmosphere, raising their own vegetables and making their own bread, jams, and baby foods might not be all they’re making it out to be. When Merry’s oldest and best friend Frank sends word she’ll be coming for a visit to meet Conner, Sam and Merry double-down on their version of the utopia they have been portraying.  But Merry and Frank know each other too well, and the secrets—and rivalries—can’t stay hidden for long.  

You Were Made for This, the debut novel by Michelle Sacks, is told in the first person alternating between Sam, Merry, and Frank. All three are deeply developed, establishing themselves and providing insight into the current events of the novel by sharing their pasts. The relationship between Merry and Frank—how they’ve influenced each other since early childhood and still do today—is central to the story.  Sam, though wanting to be in control, is controlled by them both, and by the relationship with his mother, giving him a loathing for women that he just can’t seem to get over. 
Full of characters you'll love to hate, You Were Made for This shows us the worst of the human nature.

How far will this rivalry between Merry and Frank go? Adultery? Murder? And who will come out on top? You just can’t predict what a lifetime of love and hate can do among friends.


Sacks, Michelle. You Were Made for This, Little, Brown, June 2018.
ISBN: 978-0-316-47540-2





A copy of You Were Made for This was provided to The Thirty Year Itch by the publisher via NetGalley. No compensation was received for this review. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

JAR OF HEARTS by Jennifer Hillier


     Sixteen-year-old Angela went missing, without explanation, never to be heard from again. Fifteen years later, her body was found in the woods behind her best friend’s—Geo’s— house. She was the first victim of serial killer Calvin James, Geo’s boyfriend. Geo kept the secret, until the body was discovered, and she was arrested for the crime. She testified against Calvin and served five years in prison, while Calvin escaped shortly after his conviction and disappeared. When Geo is released from prison, a new string of murders begins, mimicking the death of Angela. Geo learns that some secrets can’t be kept buried, and her crimes continue to haunt her. 

     What an amazing surprise this book was. Jar of Hearts is my first book by Jennifer Hillier, and from the jacket description I was somewhat ambivalent about it. But the first chapter had me hooked, and it only got better from there. 

     I particularly liked that the story jumped from past to present, allowing for fragmented revelation of information so readers could eventually piece together what happened. Geo was a frustrating but likable character, largely because of her self-awareness. The guilt over her bad choices that led to and followed the death of her best friend, was always present despite the outward appearance that she was living her best life. Angela, Geo, and their third wheel and friend-zoned Kaiser Brody--who grows up to be the cop who arrests Geo and Calvin--are all well-developed, believable, and relatable characters. 

     Among many great books this year, Jar of Hearts is a surprise favorite. A perfect blend of mystery, thriller, and good characters.


Hillier, Jennifer. Jar of Hearts, Minotaur Books, June 12, 2018. 
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250154194




A copy of Jar of Hearts was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.com. No compensation was received for this review. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

TRUE FICTION by Lee Goldberg


     
     Thriller author Ian Ludlow unwittingly becomes the target of a private security firm making a play for outsourced CIA clandestine services. After he discovers he has survived two attempts on his life by luck and foils a third, he decides to become the secret agent he has only known in his imagination and on the pages of his books to take on the diabolical man that has the resources of a private army at his disposal. 

     True Fiction, it's larger than life characters, and far-fetched plot is a fast read filled with action and laughs. It's comic book superhero feel reminds me of movies like True Lies, RED, and books like the Nikki Heat Series by Richard Castle. A fun distraction!




Goldberg, Lee. True Fiction, Thomas & Mercer, April 1, 2018. ISBN: 978-1503949188




A copy of True Lies was provided through Kindle First Reads
No compensation was paid for this review. 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Sunburn by Laura Lippman



     Adam is hired to get close to Polly, whom his employer told his is a thief, liar, and worse. Adam does, but doesn't count on falling in love. Neither does Polly. 
    Their love, while true, is complicated by the lies and secrets it is based on. Each make sacrifices for each other and for their relationship, but they never make the sacrifice that could save it. They never share the truth. 

     Sunburn is a stand-alone novel by Laura Lippman, author of the series featuring Baltimore private detective Tess Monaghan. 
     I particularly enjoyed the complexity that was Polly. Among her secrets and lies, there was hope that there was something good in her. Was she created by circumstance, a victim of abuse who learned to adapt to survive? Or was she born cold, ruthless, diabolical? 
     Or perhaps I was rooting for Polly because those that surrounded her were worse--sadistic, abusive, greedy, selfish, envious.

     Sometimes I find myself liking least people who are neither good or bad, but painfully indifferent to anything but their own needs. Sunburn is a novel that demonstrates that sometimes those are people that finish last. And that sometimes love can conquer all, but perhaps not the love readers will expect. 

Lippman, Laura. Sunburn, William Morrow, February 20, 2018. ISBN: 978-0-06-238992-3



Friday, February 23, 2018

GREEN SUN by Kent Anderson


     At thirty-eight years old, Hanson finds himself the oldest cadet in the Oakland, California, Police Academy. He was a police officer in Portland for four years—a good one, he thought—before quitting to try teaching at a college in Idaho. That didn’t work out, so he went to Oakland, hired sight unseen by a Lieutenant who had departed the agency before Hanson even arrived, leaving him at the mercy of a department that opposed his hiring and would do what he could to rid the Oakland PD of the old recruit. But Hanson is not a quitter.

     Green Sun is the third novel by KentAnderson about Hanson following Sympathy for the Devil and Night Dogs. It starts at the end of his teaching career in Idaho and follows him through the Oakland Police Academy and about a year as a patrol officer. Despite his antipathy for police work and the people he works with, he takes the job seriously and does his best to do it fairly, usually avoid violence, and get through his eighteen months to earn his Peace Officer Standards & Training (POST) Certificate, so he can move on to another department.

 “A place where…he’d be the law, an armed social worker enforcing the social contract of that particular jurisdiction. Where justice would be more important that the California Penal Code…and hell, do it without a gun…He didn’t need a gun, only morons needed a gun.”

Hanson struggles every day with his job: the quotas, violence, and ulterior motives of his peers and supervisors.

“But he was an asshole, he thought. Didn’t matter, just another asshole cop. Pretty soon he’d fit right in, one of the guys finally. If he’d start arresting everybody he could, pile up citations and kiss enough ass, he might make sergeant someday, or get on a special drug squad with the special assholes.”

     Hanson doesn’t want to be the asshole he thought was becoming but was not perfect. He makes arrests to keep the brass off his back, nearly succumbs to seduction, uses force, befriends a drug dealer, and is no stranger to drugs and alcohol abuse himself. He sometimes feels as if he’s already dead, and therefore does not fear death, knowing it’s inevitable, even while finding peace with a woman and hope in a young man he befriends in his neighborhood.

     Green Sun has an abstract feel to it, Hanson being disconnected from much of the world and himself, in a state between life and death. Some chapters read like short stories, establishing Hanson as a character and police officer, giving the reader a look at policing in the 1980s, but not otherwise moving the plot forward. In some ways, those are the chapters I enjoyed the most and found most relatable.


     Green Sun offers a vivid look into the failures of policing of the 1980s through the eyes of an imperfect but hopeful character. Set solidly in the era of the establishment of professional policing--“…standardize cops, crank them out and deploy them as interchangeable cop units.” --that measured the successes in numbers of arrests and other data while minimizing the value of community policing while solidifying what became the drug war as we know it. The remnants of both of those arguably failed approaches are still being combatted today.

Anderson, Kent. Green SunMulholland Books, February 27, 2018. 
ISBN 9780316466820





A copy of Green Sun was provided to The Thirty Year Itch by the publisher via Netgalley.com. No compensation was provided for this review. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

A MAP OF THE DARK by Karen Ellis


Special Agent Elsa Myers is in demand in the FBI’s Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team. But she is also needed by her family as her father is on his death bed. But aside from her father and sister, work is all she has. So when a seventeen-year-old girl doesn’t come home from work at a New York City coffee shop, Special Agent Myers leaves her father’s bedside to consult—just a consult, she’ll be back that evening--with NYPD Det. Lex Cole. But when the case turns personal, Elsa knows she’ll see it through.
     
As Elsa investigates the missing girl and deals with her father’s terminal illness, her past comes back to haunt her. Her father begs her to let go, to allow his death, the sale of her childhood home, to free her. But it isn’t always easy, especially when Det. Cole is there, trying to be her new best friend when what she wants is a partner that minds his own business.


A Map Of The Dark is a police procedural that uniquely has the FBI working in cooperation with local law enforcement, a welcome change. Also refreshing is the altruistic work of law enforcement. They want to rescue the missing victim; no one-upping, no competition, no corruption.  It is an efficiently written combination of plot and character that will hold the interest of crime fiction fans.


Ellis, Karen. A Map of the Dark, Mulholland Books, January 2, 2018. ISBN: 978-0316505666




A copy of A Map of the Dark was provided to The Thirty Year Itch by the publisher via NetGalley.com. No compensation was provided for this review.