Tag Archive | mystery

Review: Lost Souls by Lisa Jackson

Series: New Orleans #5

lost souls -lisa jacksonNew York Times bestselling author Lisa Jackson delivers her most harrowing novel yet as a young woman’s determined hunt for a serial killer draws her into a twisted psychopath’s unspeakable crimes.

Twenty-seven-year-old Kristi Bentz is lucky to be alive.

Not many people her age have nearly died twice at the hands of a serial killer, and lived to tell about it. Her dad, New Orleans detective, Rick Bentz, wants Kristi to stay in New Orleans and out of danger.

But if anything, Kristi’s experiences have made her even more fascinated by the mind of the serial killer.

She hasn’t given up her dream of being a true-crime writer–of exploring the darkest recesses of evil–and now she just may get her chance.


 

3.5 Drink Me Potions


Lost Souls wasn’t quite as freaky as Lisa Jackson’s previous novel in the New Orleans series. This might’ve been due to the whole vampire theme that was going on. I’m not shaming vampires. I frankly still read stories on occasion that feature vampires who are very real in their fantasy world, and I was a lover of many vampire novels in the past. But when it’s set in the real world of New Orleans, people who exsanguinate others for blood just didn’t sound as scary as other serial killer types.

That being said, this novel was still weird in its own way. I love that there’s always different clues and red herrings that get pointed in our way to make it harder to easily predict the killer. The POV coming from the killer didn’t make it much easier to help narrow down the pool of suspects. I enjoyed the thought Jackson put into crafting the plot, but at times, it was just a bit slow and long to read. I felt the killer had more “screen” time than most other crime novels do, although I’m not necessarily complaining about that. I’m mostly satisfied with how it turned out and who the culprit was.

What I felt lagged a bit was the reconnection between Kristi and Jay. I liked that there was already a spark there, but it didn’t feel like it rekindled naturally. I also don’t love Kristi. Since the last novel, I already figured that she wasn’t one to listen to anyone, let alone her own survival instincts until it was too late and she’s just screaming for help and praying that someone would intervene in time. There’s no sense of safety and precaution in this girl! You’d think after at least 2 attempts on her life from SERIAL KILLERS, she’d at least be more careful when tracking down another. It’s like she doesn’t experience PTSD or learn anything from not one, but TWO, horrible dealings with killers. And I hated that she was able to persuade Jay to let her do things her way (aka not going to the police when they had some evidence of sorts ’cause she was afraid of what her daddy would do *eye rolls*) or by plainly lying by omission to Jay so he wouldn’t know what harebrained plan she had hatched up and wanted to try – without thinking the consequences through of course.

All in all, Lost Souls wasn’t bad as I’m not adverse to the whole vampirism trope that was happening here, but the personal relationships and the main character could annoy some people.

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Review: Absolute Fear by Lisa Jackson

Series: New Orleans #4

absolute fear -lisa jacksonEvery Serial Killer…

A serial killer is stalking the streets of New Orleans. The victims are killed in a ritual fashion, a series of numbers tattooed into their bodies. There are no clues, no connections except one: a crumbling old asylum that was once the scene of unspeakable madness–and is now the calling card of a new kind of fear.

Is Searching For…

Eve Renner knows Our Lady of Virtues Hospital well. As the daughter of one of its doctors, she spent her childhood exploring its secrets chambers, hidden rooms, and forbidden passageways. Now, somewhere in the decaying asylum lies the key to a betrayal from the past whose echoes are being felt with a vengeance–a crime beyond imagining that seems to lead to Eve herself.

The Perfect Victim…

As each new body is found and forgotten, memories surface, and Eve must race to put together a deadly puzzle, one terrifying piece at a time. A killer is watching, planning, luring her back to the ruins of Our Lady and the shocking truths hidden there. For the sins of the past must be revealed, and the price paid–in blood…


4 Drink Me Potions


This was my first Lisa Jackson mystery (I know, why pop into the 4th book of a series? I don’t have an answer for you), and I was fascinated with the killer. Not in some creepy obsessive way. The killer was obviously deranged in more ways than one with a God complex. For some reasons, those kinds of killers always seemed so much scarier, maybe ’cause it’s not implausible that someone in real life could think like that.

Anyway, the premise of the killings and the romance itself were intriguing. Tattooed numbers on the victims with seemingly random numbers. A very scary setting at an abandoned insane asylum complete with all those old inhumane machines they used to use, like electroshock therapy. The protagonist Eve had even initially thought she saw her ex-fiance Cole point a gun at her and shoot her. So the romance already is at odds. But somehow, everything wound itself together in all the right ways.

Amidst what I thought were the two main characters, there’s also Detectives Montoya and Bentz, who are apparently very central to this series (like I said, I came in late). Laughingly, I even suspected one of these detectives planting evidence on Cole before I figured out they were protagonists too.

This was a good mystery that kept me on my toes as every time I thought I had a culprit in mind, some other weird clue or discovery made me second guess myself. As it turns out, it wasn’t as simple or predictable as I thought the answer would be. The whole mystery made sense, which is no small feat when writing a plausible motive behind such atrocious acts, and the weird clues and tattoos were resolved in a way that made me go “ohhhh, why didn’t I think of that?”. I believe Lisa Jackson has just made a fan of me.

There were a few things that I didn’t love as much, such as the explicit nature of the killer. Whenever we see their POV, it’s like they’re always lusting after Eve. Ridiculously lusting after her. Is there ever a time when he wasn’t? I’m not sure if all of that was necessary, but oh well. Additionally, the romance just felt lacking in some ways. The way Eve started trusting Cole again, even though I always knew he was being wrongly accused, just didn’t feel quite enough. It’s a huge toll on a relationship to accuse the other capable of murder. Other than these few tidbits that just bothered me, Absolute Fear was a good introduction to Jackson’s mysteries. I look forward to reading some more by her in the future.

Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Series: Caraval #2

caraval -stephanie garberRemember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.


5 Drink Me Potions


Caraval is everything you can imagine from that beautiful synopsis. From a sweeping mystery to the beautifully described world of the once-a-year Caraval, my heart was pounding in excitement to the very end.

I heard that this book has been gushed over since before it came out. It makes me wary sometimes as that puts on really high expectations which could actually do the exact opposite by disappointing me in the end. That was NOT the case with this book.

Caraval is essentially about two sisters who apparently would do anything for each other. Tella’s the more reckless and headstrong sister, while Scarlett is more thoughtful in all her actions. It comes with being the older sister. I loved Scarlett. She was so understandable and her devotion to her younger sister was admirable. She would do anything to get them out of their abusive father’s hands, even by marrying a complete stranger who offered to take in Tella too.

But, the magic and mystery surrounding Caraval and its mystery hunt during its week-long performance was the one thing Scarlett had always dreamed of attending. When things turned and the sisters found themselves entering Caraval to join in on this year’s game, my heart was literally so ecstatic. Even when the “real” plot hadn’t officially started yet, I was already so wrapped up in these characters and what would await them in Caraval.

I didn’t love Tella as much as Scarlett. In part, it was due to the fact that the sisters were separated so early on and everything’s in Scarlett’s POV. But it always seemed like Scarlett was the one to be making the sacrifice. I learned to appreciate Tella a bit more over time, but any more of her presence might’ve annoyed me more. Thankfully, the other protagonist and love interest for Scarlett was surprisingly amazing.

Julian was the PERFECT guy for Scarlett. Not only was he mysterious, confident and very hot, he pushed Scarlett beyond her comfort zone in a way no one else could. And even though there always seemed to be an aura of secrets around him, he was dependable when push came to shove for Scarlett. And I thought she was good for him too. As his secrets untangled over the course of the plot (which by the way were deliciously unpredictable as I kept second-guessing what his purpose was for being at Caraval and what his connections to this place were), I felt all these emotions collide in me. Happy, sad, surprised, relieved, you name it. The chemistry between these two were literally tangible. It was such a beautiful, slow-burn romance. They didn’t necessarily want to fall for each other – after all, Scarlett was technically still engaged to some stranger. But they did and it just worked! *fangirl sigh*

As for the world of Caraval, its mysterious characters that Scarlett met along the way, and the weird rules were all fascinating. Everything was well-described and the oddity of some of the things that went on here reminded me a lot of the imaginative detailing and world of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. Of course, that only added to my joy in reading this. On top of that, the mystery game at the heart of Caraval that its contestants could join in to solve for a prize was amazing. It was well-paced, with fun clues that kept Scarlett (and me) guessing for its meaning.

Honestly, Caraval has it all. Whatever you want in a book, it should have it within its pages. Whether you believe the hype or not, I suggest you read it for yourself with no expectations and just maybe, you’ll find yourself as surprised as I was at how much I enjoyed this.

Overall Recommendation:
Caraval is one of those rare books that just makes you believe in the world that you’ve stepped into, and makes it so hard to leave it. With a loyal and empathetic protagonist as Scarlett and a mysterious love interest such as Julian, the romance department here was just HOT. And the additional mystery that they needed to solve while at Caraval with the highest stakes possible only added to the pulse-pounding experience. A well-paced and overall imaginative story, Caraval hasn’t made it to many reviewers’ good graces for no reason. A definite recommendation.