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Review: Huntress Moon (The Huntress/FBI Thrillers #1) – Alexandra Sokoloff

huntress“People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

“Beware the dark pool at the bottom of our hearts. In its icy, black depths dwell strange and twisted creatures it is best not to disturb.” ― Sue Grafton, I is for Innocent

 

“There are no heroes…in life, the monsters win.” George R.R. Martin had it right. In life, especially in these days and times, the monsters win. And in Thriller Award nominee for Best eBook Original Novel Huntress Moon, Alexandra Sokoloff draws the monsters in all their disturbing reality. The monsters are out there – living amongst us, drawing upon us, eating their victims, body and soul.

“Put just one of these monsters out of commission – the child sellers, the serial rapists, the mutilators, the torturers – lock just one of the breathing, crawling scum away for the rest of their miserable lives, and the entire balance of the world shifts. Who wouldn’t want a license to do it?

Well, that is what Matt Roarke thought from the time he was nine years old. From the time he learned of the horrors that really exist in the world. For that is the day he learned of what happened to five-year-old Cara Lindstrom and her family. Miraculously, Cara survived the slaughter of her family – a slaughter carried out by “It”, by a “Monster”, not a man. But of course, who is going to listen to a brutally traumatized five-year-old?

Years later, when one of Roarke’s agents is killed in front of him in what appears to be an accident but Roarke knows is not, his attention is caught by what at first seems to be simply a witness. But in that moment, he knows she is something else, something ‘more’. And as his investigation grows, the story becomes something more than he expects. Something that will change his very soul.

While some found the story ‘slow’, and of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, I found the book had an almost dreamlike quality to portions of the story – a development of characters and locations which I found ‘rich’ rather than slow. The book is very well researched and written, and beautifully paced. I don’t need to be spoon-fed story development – in fact, I am disappointed when my hand is held and I find myself with bib at throat in mystery and thriller stories. This was perfect.

From the world of darkness I did loose demons and devils in the power of scorpions to torment. — Charles Manson

In a twisted turn of fate, Cara is back in Matt’s life – and the monsters, ah the monsters – human traffickers, drug lords, the darkness abounds. But hope and possibilities intermingle with the dark. And I can hardly wait to read more. The next is Blood Moon – and I am so excited to start it right away!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. More than a five star read – if you are interested in FBI based thrillers, I highly recommend the series. If you enjoy my reviews, please leave a “Yes” at Amazon.com – it helps me help authors! Thank you.

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Review: Midnight Eyes – Sidney Williams and Narrated by A. C. Fellner

My consuming lust was to experience their bodies. I viewed them as objects, as strangers. It is hard for me to believe a human being could have done what I’ve done. – Jeffrey Dahmer

 We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow – Ted Bundy (Lady Killer)

11280748We live in isolation. The 1950’s really started the whole “Nuclear Family” phenomenon. Mother, father, children, living in isolation, grandparents and the rest of the extended family in their own little isolated pods as well. But, what happens when the Nuclear family itself goes nuclear? And what happens to the children… Nobody ever told the story of the kids, after…  Because sometimes, those families contain monsters.

The setting of Midnight Eyes is one that I truly enjoy. The swamps of southern Louisiana are the perfect setting for a serial murder mystery, with its slow, deliberate pace, brutal wet heat and the scents of swamp water and death, magnolia and rot. As you enter the swamps, it is through the past, as a serial killer strikes and then disappearing, leaving a town and its sheriff shell-shocked and the sheriff embittered for the remainder of his life.

Now, many years later the murders are happening again. Murders of such horror and brutal viciousness that the mutilation of the victims while still alive horrifies even a hardened FBI Criminal Profiler who specializes in serial killers.

I found the pace of the story somewhat uneven, but still compelling as everyone from reporters to private detectives reach for what one can only call a twisted sort of glory as they track the monster in their midst.

Midnight Eyes is available from Audible here:

http://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/Midnight-Eyes-Audiobook/B00B010V9I/ref=a_search_c4_1_3_srImg?qid=1409488732&sr=1-3

Readers of “true crime” might actually enjoy the story as the author utilizes his own experience as a journalist to make the setting and characters as realistic as possible.

I received this book from Audiobooks Monthly in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

The author Sidney Williams will be interviewed in the October issue of Audio Book Monthly Magazine.

Review: Midnight Eyes By Sidney Williams – Audiobook Monthly

My consuming lust was to experience their bodies. I viewed them as objects, as strangers. It is hard for me to believe a human being could have done what I’ve done. – Jeffrey Dahmer

We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow – Ted Bundy (Lady Killer)

midnighteyesMidnight Eyes
Author: Sidney Williams
Genre: Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars

We live in isolation. The 1950’s really started the whole “Nuclear Family” phenomenon. Mother, father, children, living in isolation, grandparents and the rest of the extended family in their own little isolated pods as well. But, what happens when the Nuclear family itself goes nuclear? And what happens to the children… Nobody ever told the story of the kids, after . . Because sometimes, those families contain monsters.

The setting of Midnight Eyes is one that I truly enjoy. The swamps of southern Louisiana are the perfect setting for a serial murder mystery, with its slow, deliberate pace, brutal wet heat and the scents of swamp water and death, magnolia and rot. As you enter the swamps, it is through the past, as a serial killer strikes and then disappearing, leaving a town and its sheriff shell-shocked and the sheriff embittered for the remainder of his life.

Now, many years later the murders are happening again. Murders of such horror and brutal viciousness that the mutilation of the victims while still alive horrifies even a hardened FBI Criminal Profiler who specializes in serial killers.

I found the pace of the story somewhat uneven, but still compelling as everyone from reporters to private detectives reach for what one can only call a twisted sort of glory as they track the monster in their midst.

Readers of “true crime” might actually enjoy the story as the author utilizes his own experience as a journalist to make the setting and characters as realistic as possible.

I would give the actual tale a solid four on a scale of one to five. The narrator, however, was embarrassingly substandard. He droned (my housemate came in while I was listening and asked me if I was listening to a lecture by the world’s most dry, boring high school history teacher. Remember those? The ones who made the most fascinating periods of history put you to sleep? So much so, she said, that it would turn her completely off audio books as a whole if she were forced to the whole 16 h 53 min. Yep. That long. Ugh.) And when a narrator cannot even bring himself to learn proper pronunciation of family names or cities, the author should know s/he has a problem. Overall, I would not recommend the audio edition; I would go straight to the print edition. That would be worth reading.

I received this book from Audiobooks Monthly in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.  My review is printed in Audiobook Monthly, however, this is the full review, including my Narration review.

Review: The Broken by Shelley Coriell – Highly Recommended

I’ve killed no one. I’ve ordered no one to be killed. These children who come to you with their knives, they’re your children. I didn’t teach them, you did. – Charles Manson

Meet No Sympathy. He’s cold, blunt, uncaring, unfeeling. You aren’t going to like him. A man without a conscience, he appears to be totally emotionless. He’s the person for whom most of our explicit swear words were coined – Ruth Minshull

 

broken
A wonderful book that will keep you on edge all the way through.
Very Highly Recommended.

In The Silence of the Lambs, Thomas Harris describes it concisely. He lives down in a ribcage in the dry leaves of a heart. For within the serial killer, there is no true heart. Or is it that there is no “soul” – that part of us that discerns right from wrong, love from hate, compassion from brutality? What causes a person to become a serial killer, really?

While my work at UC during my Masters training balanced the ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ controversy, Coriell has done brilliant job writing about the ‘nurture’ philosophy of psychopathy and serial killers. Her research is beautifully done, concise, and realistic as is her character development. The Broken draws you in and leaves you breathless, turning page after page, engrossed in the story, drawing you along into a world of pain and brutality – and yet doing so with such a deft hand that, rather than being stomach churning, it is instead deeply affecting, reaching into your heart and soul and raising questions which will stay with you long after the last page is turned.

Referencing one of my favorite short articles on child abuse and psychopathy, Lylah M. Alphonse1, states: The groundbreaking HBO documentary “Child of Rage” years ago showed how horrific abuse and neglect could leave a child unable to bond with other people, turning them into children “without conscience, who can hurt or even kill without remorse.” In other words: the child becomes a psychopath. Extreme physical and sexual abuse and neglect can certainly cause the detached, calculating demeanor and lack of a sense of conscience shared by the serial killer. For the layman, this is one of the easiest articles on the syndrome to read and understand, and it points out quite elegantly how simple it is to take that small step to becoming a monster. And yet, the conversion of a brutalized child to a serial killer isn’t a given, and in Shelly Coriell’s brilliant The Broken, the brutality suffered by three very different children results in three very different outcomes. Outcomes that are horrifying, sad, and deeply, deeply disturbing.

Katrina Erikson had a rough start. Abandoned by her father, she and her younger brother, Jason are raised by a mentally ill mother. Jason is the child whom the mother obsessively dotes upon while alternately neglecting and torturing Katrina. Jason, who slept in his mother’s bed for much too long, and to unknown consequence, while Katrina is locked away in the attic, to be neither heard nor seen.

At a young age Katrina runs away from home, working herself to exhaustion, attending college, then becoming a well-known broadcast journalist. Her life is running smoothly, she is even able to set aside for long periods the memories of her youth. Until, that is, she is attacked, stabbed twenty-four times, and left for dead on her bedroom floor. And the thing is – she knows who did it. She knows – and yet no one will believe her.

When we first meet Katrina, she is “Kate” a loner who has traveled the back roads on her motorcycle for the last three years, rarely speaking to anyone, running from the butcher who searches for her in order to finish what he has begun. But there is someone else looking for her too . . .

Hayden Reed is looking for Katrina – because Hayden Reed believes. And he believes for a horrific reason. You see, Hayden Reed is an FBI agent – an FBI agent who is on the trail of the Broadcast Butcher, a serial killer who slaughters beautiful broadcast journalists by stabbing them many, many times. And Hayden knows that Katrina was his first victim. He knows, even though the police didn’t believe her, didn’t believe she knew who attacked her, didn’t believe that the attacker would return. When Hayden finally tracks Kate down, he attempts to bring her in as a material witness, to drag her into witness protection – to force her to relive her own personal hell on earth.

One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Hayden first tells Kate he is “sorry” for what he is going to put her through. She responds, “You’re sorry? . . . For what? For the scars that disfigure my face and body? For the ineptitude of your law enforcement brothers? For believing in a system that doesn’t work?” When his only response is, “It works.” Her reply was a gut wrenching, and oh so true statement. “Like hell it does! It’s a broken system, a broken world, Agent Reed, shattered and ugly and full of evil.” It is so easy for a man like Hayden, a true believer in the perfection of the system of “justice” to overlook all of the failures of society and the legal system – and so easy for a broken Kate to have no belief in the system that failed her so brutally.

What happens in The Broken is a breathtaking race against time, as the body count rises and the Butcher gets closer and closer to his goal of finding Katrina. Finding her, and killing her – “the one who got away.” The writing is tight, leading you from one moment to the next, never giving away too much, never going overboard with the violence, which is mostly ‘off screen’ and yet holds your attention and drags you further into the story. You become a part of the darkness, of the heinous acts of a true “Butcher” – and of the huge disconnect between what one would wish justice to be – and what it truly is.

“Why didn’t you report the second attack?”

 “What would the police say? ‘Ooops! Sorry we screwed up. We’ll do better next time’? I didn’t report the attack, Agent Reed, because it wouldn’t make a difference.”

This is a Very Highly Recommended Read for the lover of suspense, mystery, thrills and chills. I received this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review. And, honestly? It is going on my “Keepers” shelf!

1 http://tinyurl.com/nasakt4 Lylah M. Alphonse – Senior Editor, Yahoo! Shine | Parenting – Mon, May 14, 2012 6:14 PM EDT

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