Mystery Blogger Award Nomination

Tea Corner (Blog)

My first blog nomination! Thank you to Nikki for thinking of and tagging me in this! You can check out her blog over at Nikki Swift Reads by clicking right over →HERE←!

“The Mystery Blogger Award is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.”

The Rules

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • Answer the questions provided by whoever nominated you.
  • Nominate 10 – 20 people.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions.
  • Share a link to your best post(s).

Three Things About Me

  1. My favorite motivational music is a combo of music and ambience. My favorite music combination is having one tab open for a chill jazz playlist and another tab open with a looping glass-clink/bar ambience video, specifically this one. Played together, it really sounds like I’m relaxing, working or reading in a cafe! However, when I really need peace and quiet, I only listen ambient sounds such as a ship in a storm or a clocktower (I love the sound of clocks ticking).
  2. My 2 favorite game series of all time are Harvest Moon and Fire Emblem. Though the Harvest Moon I used to love is now known as Story of Seasons, one of my earliest farming games was the original (boy version) Friends of Mineral Town on GBA and A Wonderful Life: Special Edition on PS2. I grew up with my Fire Emblem Sacred Stones game and have loved and followed the series as it grew to what it is today, Three Houses.
  3. I have a rubber duck collection. Currently packed away in a cardboard box somewhere (we are in moving soon) most of my ducks are gifts. My younger brother’s High School’s school store (Hey! Why didn’t my school have a school store??) sold individual rubber ducks for 75¢ with seasonal and holiday themes. He’d buy as many as he could afford for the season and (with my schooling hours ending later than his) I would often come back and find a few cute little duckies just sitting on top of my laptop on my desk. And it’s literally the cutest thing ever.

My Best Posts

Nominations

Nikki’s Questions

  1. What are your favorite type of shoes to wear?
    My favorite type of shoes to wear are boots, especially the boots with a slight wedge/incline to them. As someone who will, most definitely, break their ankles wearing normal heels, wearing boots with a bit of a heel is about as close to I will ever get to wearing “heels.” Plus…boots are stylish and comfy and….and I love my boots ❤️
  2. What are some of your goals related to blogging that you are proud of yourself for reaching?
    There are two big goals that I’ve reached and are my proudest moments.
    a. Start a Blog: I’m proud of myself for being able to start a blog at all. I’ve pondered about starting a website for a long time. I eventually settled on books because it was the only topic I was really capable of decking out content in.
    b. Hitting My 100: I’m a big believer in “celebrate every little thing!” When I hit my 10 followers, I celebrated. When I hit my 50, I celebrated, when I hit my 100, I was ecstatic! It’s no huge number. It’s no Youtuber million or even Youtuber thousand, but to me, that’s a hundred pairs of eyes following my content and reading the things I write. Picture that in an auditorium! Exciting right? Bigger than your average classroom presentation audience! I couldn’t have done it without you all so…Thank you!❤️
  3. What is your favorite cold treat to eat in the summer time? 
    Mmm. Watermelons are my favorite summer cold treat. I enjoy mint chocolate chip ice cream every now and then, but I’m not a huge ice cream fan in general (popsicles are okay…) so if I had to choose, it’d be watermelon for sure (especially if it’s need chilled in the fridge).
  4. If you could request any author to write a book just for you, what would the book be about and who would be the author?
    John Sandford is my favorite author and his two main series, Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers, are my favorite series in the crime thriller genre. From the few Davenport and Flowers books I’ve read, they are boss and subordinate each to their own series. They interact every now and then, but I’ve not (at least not yet) read a book where they team up to work on one major case together. Lucas has his own cases and Virgil has his. It’d be really cool to read collab book of sorts, joining to the series together into one special release.
  5. Do you like your salsa spicy or mild? Spicy!!

My Questions

  1. How did you come up with your blog name?
  2. Do you have a favorite flower? What is it? (Alt. question if you don’t have a favorite flower: What is your season?)
  3. What was your dream career or job as a 10 year old. Have you reached it or in the progress of reaching it? Or has it changed?
  4. What is your favorite type of blog post to write (reviews, daily blogging, hauls, polls, etc.)?
  5. If you could be pulled into any fictional world (books/movie/anime/etc) which world would it be?

Currently Reading: The Day She Came Back by Amanda Prowse [ARC]

Tea Corner (Blog)

Book Name: The Day She Came Back
Series: Standalone Book #: N/A
Author: Amanda Prowse
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Expected Publication Date: July 7th, 2020
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle (Doc) > ARC
Obtained: “Read Now” on Netgalley
Pages: 306
Genre: Fiction, Women’s Fiction [?? Maybe?]
Start Date: 05.20.2020
End Date: 05.31.2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Second ARC since starting this blog! My first Netgalley read! I kept hearing about Netgalley on IG and Book Twitter and while I had a general glimpse of what the site was about, I didn’t really know know (ya know?). So after pondering for a while, I finally made myself a Netgalley account. After almost an hour of technical difficulties (where I didn’t read how Netgalley books were apparently DOC files and not Kindle files & I couldn’t figure out why it successfully downloaded to my Kindle phone app but not on my Kindle Fire…oops?) here we are. With a current Feedback Ratio of 0% I figured a “Read Now” would be more suitable (and slowly build my way up).

The most attractive thing about this book were the reviews, genre, and the cover. The summary was about a women named Victoria, whose lived with her gram her whole life, after losing her mother to overdose. She never got to even know her mother. When her gram passes, while attending her funeral, she meets a woman who claims to be Victoria’s mother. The reviews on Netgalley said that it was a beautifully written story (multiple in fact) and I just couldn’t resist.

I paged through the first few scenes yesterday (I didn’t even make it out of the first chapter yet as I’ve been busy) I could see, already, why everyone was saying that it’s beautifully written. Just from the first chapter alone, the words and sentences are masterfully crafted together to bring this rich and vibrant language that I can’t really describe. I almost cried…already!

As for the genre…I’m pretty poor at sorting things into genres and generally rely on the oh so wonderful Goodreads to guide me, but it’s fiction (that I know). It might be considered women’s fiction maybe? But I wanted to venture out a little bit from my norm. I am obsessed with the mystery/crime/murder thrillers and suspenses and fantasy. I’ve only recently started to look up other genres to read, including sci-fi. This book sounded like an amazing first step out of the house of safety and so, like all books, I can’t wait to dig in. I’ll let you know how it goes soon!

Reaper: Drone Strike [Review]

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

Book Name: Reaper: Drone Strike
Series: The Reapers Book: # 3
Author: Nicholas Irving with A.J. Tata
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Book Type: Physical > Paperback > ARC
Pages: 354
Genre: Fiction, War, Military Fiction
Start Date: 05.04.2020
End Date: 05.16.2020

Giveaway Disclaimer: I received this book from a Goodreads Giveaway set up by St. Martin’s Press. This does not affect my opinions in anyway. I will still give my honest thoughts, feedback, and review of the book based off of what I think of it.

Summary From Goodreads:
On a classified mission to help the Israeli Defense Forces stop a Syrian and Hezbollah invasion to seize the Golan Heights, Ranger sniper Vick Harwood and his spotter go deep undercover. Operating with limited support from the American and Israeli governments, Vick is out on the edge.

Alessandra Cavezza, Director of Operations in Syria for the Italian UN Commission for Refugees, is moving families out of an embattled neighborhood. The nearly vacant suburb has been a haven for anti-Assad forces, ISIS militants, and Russian private military contractors. As she crawls into the basement of a home to help find a young girl’s doll, she finds a secret room that has detailed descriptions of unthinkable attacks on the United States, and falls into the hands of a madman: Jasar Tankian, Lebanese mastermind behind the plots.

As Syrian tanks attempt to push through Israeli defenses at the border, Team Reaper picks off Syrian tank commanders as they battle Israeli tanks, jets, and infantrymen. Combat intensifies as Vick goes black on ammunition. Commandeering a cargo drone to deliver Team Reaper to a landing zone near the coordinates, Vick becomes Alessandra’s–and America’s–only hope for survival.

Condense Review (No Spoilers)

I realized that I like to ramble about the books I like and go on and on and on….So I’ve decided, from now on, to include a tiny section where I just condense my opinions into a quick, short, and simple review. For this one, at least, I also have minor spoilers in my actual review below, so this one is spoiler-free and gets to the point.

Expanded Plot:

The plot starts off with Sassi or Alessandra Cavezza, the Director of Operations in Syria for the Italian UN Commission for Refugees. She’s patching up a shrapnel wound on a little girl, Fatima, who whispers to her that she Aamina is missing. After a (very) close encounter with a Russian commander, she goes to look for Aamina, Fatima’s doll. Sassi finds Aamina in a basement and crawls down to retrieve the doll. On her way out, she notices, through a narrow tunnel, a world map with pins and strings. There are several pins all around the world including Syria and Lebanon. There was a single pin from the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon to Tripoli and Cyprus, eventually webbing out to multiple United States and Canadian East Coast and Midwest pins.

Taking a picture to upload to her cloud, Sassi brushes off the map and pins as perhaps a geography lesson or even a merchant business plan left behind. However, she is quickly chased out when the ceiling hatch bursts open and men come out shooting at her with AK-47s. It’s clear that she saw something she was not supposed to, even if she didn’t know what the map even meant. Making her second narrow escape of the day, Sassi takes Fatima and escapes the town with Hakim, Sassi’s friend and interpreter.

The next chapters introduces us to the point of views of a few other major characters including Wolff Maximillian, the CEO of a luxurious automobile company that Max had helped bring to great heights only for it to crash down to near bankruptcy, Jasir Tankian, a mastermind logistician, and our Ranger Sniper protagonist, Vick Harwood, and his spotter, Ian Nolte.

Harwood and Ian are on a black mission to overwatch a logistics operations led by a merchant in the Beqaa Valley. They were to watch over and see where chemical weapons are coming from and gather intel on who is resupplying Hezbollah and the Syrians. Things seem to be going smoothly as Harwood and Ian begin to engage and shoot at the convoys. However, Ian is injured on the mission and Harwood attempts to evacuate Ian to safety via a cargo drone, only for the drone to be shot down. Knowing that Ian is most likely alive, Harwood rushes to save his friend. Having already lost two of his spotters, he refuses to let another one die on him, but with supplies low and nobody to back him up, Harwood is now alone in the rescue mission and he needs to get to Ian before he lands in the terrorists’ hands.

Expanded Review (May Contains Minor Spoilers):

Before I get into the review, I have a random funny fact to share about this book. The amount of times this [following] statement was used throughout the book and by different people was highly amusing to me (maybe b/c I find myself saying this a lot myself); “It has to be it,” “What else could it mean,” and “Who else could it be” was dotted throughout the book. Usually, I don’t notice stupidly small things like this, but then again, once I notice a pattern, I end up being weirdly giddy. Nothing to do with the book. Just a funny thing I noticed harhar.

[Ok ok, back on topic].  

This is my first military fiction (meaning I haven’t read the previous two books in this series either) and I must say I highly enjoyed it! I’m a thriller kind of girl and even this was extra thrilling. I’m used to one single kind of thriller, the cop/detective/mystery thrills. Usually (not always), a police thriller gets exciting because of some chase, but the actual battle and gunfight/fistfight/car chase, is limited to a couple of scenes. You know, when the crook is finally smoked out and it’s a “I’m going to die today or go to jail today” no escape moments, the last and peak conflict scene/s. It’s where the police gather what forces they can find and collab to storm a house or hunt down a rouge, but now identified, criminal. Basically, it’s the end.

In this book, the action is from the first point to the last, heck, even leaving off on a cliffhanger! In the first chapter, guns are already drawn as Sassi tries to make it out of the town alive, then we hop over Harwood and Ian getting ready to engage the convoy, and we just get scene after scene of non-stop action. When Ian goes missing, and it’s only Harwood left, Harwood goes on a mad chase after his friend by taking down groups of enemies on his lonesome. Even Sassi, who has a poor view of the armed forces and of violence in general, eventually joins in with Harwood (more as a support, but she can kick some ass herself ya know!).

Imagery is important in every book, otherwise you’ll end up reading a book of outside terminology, on a topic you are unfamiliar with, and drop it like a hot potato, because you’re too busy pondering about what the heck a certain word means. That was one thing I feared coming into this book. As someone with no knowledge of anything related to the military, and not much knowledge of the conflicts happening in the Middle East, I was afraid that I was going to understand nothing of anything of what’s going on; the terminology, the machinery or equipment, the military slangs that might be used.

The authors takes care of that for you. Sure, I ended up Googling half the tanks and guns in this book, but that was out of sheer curiosity to find a pretty colored picture to match the guide. Most of my worries were whisked away because Nicholas and A.J. (authors) did a fantastic job explaining a lot. Machines, drones, and tanks were well explained. I was able to thoroughly enjoy the book and its multiple fight scenes because the action was written well and details were explained nicely. Still, even without a very good explanation, the book was still pretty readable and very much enjoyable.

You can feel the intensity of the fight and, more importantly, you can feel the situation at hand (in a way). Vick is out there, alone (mostly), trying to take on loads of armed men like he’s some sort of RPG video game character going into a raid dungeon with no other party members (was that too nerdy?). You can feel the gears running in Harwood as he tries to calculate who to take down first without the other guards noticing. You can feel the sense of being alone and Harwood even mentions it; to do such a job well done that the enemy thinks there are more opponents than just a single ranger sniper alone. What the enemy perceives is just as important as your own plans.

The characters are fleshed out and I enjoyed reading everyone’s point of views and way thinking. Of the four major characters, Harwood, Tankian, Sassi, and Max, I think I found the former three to be the most interesting, with Tankian the top interesting character in the book (sorry Max, didn’t have much of an opinion of you…besides how terrifying you can be). Yes. That’s right. I found Tankian to be even more interesting than our book’s hero and protagonist, Harwood!

Tankian, one of our main antagonists of the book, was a very interesting character. I spent a good 10 minutes muttering, to myself, about this man. A master logistician, his family was killed in a bombing, and his face scarred, but he is devoid of typical grieving emotions(???) Stone cold, maybe even on a sociopath level? Here’s a paragraph I highlighted in the book without overly spoiling:

“Tankian had been just ten years old at the time of the bombing in 1983. In an instant, his entire family was obliterated. Oddly, he didn’t harbor any resentment toward the Israelis or Americans. The one thing he had learned at the knee of his business-oriented parents was that everything was indeed about business.”

Reaper: Drone Strike, Page 66 (Irving and Tata)

Yes, typical of a villain, is that they are scoped in and very focused on one emotion. Tankian’s “emotion” is money and business. The only thing he worships is currency (even then he’s picky about accepting dollars and pounds over euros and gold/silver/etc). I think, I was so focused on, and so intrigued about Tankian, because of his lack of feeling of… hatred? (I can’t word my feelings about it properly) I constantly read (or watch) a lot of characters develop throughout a series, propelled and fueled by hatred. They start off weak and angry, they grow to become strong and angry, and then (through friendship, love, and peace! 👊) they learn to accept their past and let go of anger. Tankian is intriguing and weirdly unsettling, because the first moment we get to know about this character, it’s him explaining how he holds no anger towards those that killed his parents, brother, and destroyed his childhood, just this odd sense of admiration because in the end, feelings don’t mean squat and it’s all about business. And of course, he starts to gain emotions and a (sort of) character growth when he learns hatred and begins to hunger for revenge (and still, it was about business and not personal family feelings).

Sassi, was the initial damsel in distress. The kind I hated in YA books, where there’s a whole front section showing how strong a character is…only to get a face-palming section where they get themselves stuck in a position where they end up needing to be rescued anyways. She’s stubborn (in a good way really), distrusting of armed personnel, and her logic made me roll my eyes. The book started out by describing her as someone who understood what it means to be born into their hardships, an idealism that led her to work where she could make a difference. She’s an honorable woman with her heart in the right place. I did love that about her.

However, I had a “OMG girl no!” moment mid-book because she thought they [the people shooting at her] wouldn’t shoot her in the back because she was with the UN and her motive and cause was pure; that nothing would, could, happen to her because it just wasn’t allowed by international laws. I’m sitting here like, “They are evil. They have no morals! THEY DON’T CARE SASSI!” She has seen something she should not have seen, may have shared knowledge of the map with very important people already, and was returning to the area. She really thought nothing bad was going to happen to her…

I ended up really liking Sassi. She grows from a distrusting person to someone who would risk her life to honor and pay back a favor. She could have left and found safety, but even Harwood mentioned that she didn’t seem particularly wanting to go anywhere. Her life was saved by a someone, and suddenly she is ready to kick butt, to do anything to help out and pay the favor back. She mentions a couple times that she just wanted to make a difference in the world (she made me crrryy). She helps Harwood in many ways because she admires and takes note of the type of bonds and friendships that military and armed forces show, that they aren’t what she thought of them previously. I ended up enjoying and cheering her on towards the end of the book. She’s fearless and honorable when she could have left many times. A bit quick to judge, but she’s also one to acknowledge the wrongs of her own ideas of certain groups and people. She later works wonderfully with people, that in the beginning she couldn’t tolerate.

The action scenes of this book are nice and plentiful. It’s a thrilling book to read and kept me entertained, yes, but I think that the driving point of this book (IMO) wasn’t the plot or the actions scenes, or the tanks and drones, or of the fighting, but of the characters, their backgrounds, their details and history, and how they were written. I think that this was a great read and enjoyed it very much!

Reading Habits Book Tag

Tea Corner (Blog)

It’s Thursday! Happy Thursday! It means that Friday is just around the corner! I saw a post, this morning, from Madeline over at Mad’s Books and thought it looked fun! She tagged everyone who read her post to do it too. So I figured, why not? I am going to keep the same chain tag going so if anyone reading this wants to try it out themselves, feel free to!

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

Nope! I like to read anywhere in the house. I take book notes often so I have more of a preference towards anywhere with a large flat surface (desks!), but I can read anywhere. I’ve gotten restless during exciting scenes and have paced the living room while reading before!

Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Napkins, pens, my phone, receipts, and those 365 “rip off a page everyday” calendars (that’s like 365 different bookmarks!) . I tend to lose my bookmarks very easily so everyday junk paper seems like a financially smarter choice 😅

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/a certain amount of pages?

I prefer to stop after a chapter, because it feels like a natural break, but I can stop anywhere. In fact, I’d say, most of the time I would be stopping mid-page and mid-chapter.

Do you eat or drink while reading?

Tea or coffee, but no food (crumbs & greasy fingers 😩).

Multitasking: music or TV while reading?

I don’t have the superpower of multitasking so I can’t watch TV while reading (How?? That’s like two plots at the same time! Maybe if you’ve mastered listening to audiobooks while reading?) I don’t mind a little lofi or the ambience of glass clinking (like a cafe or bar), but I tend to read when it’s nice and quiet.

One book at a time or several at once?

I like to read one book at a time. However, if I happen to have a Kindle book and a physical book, I will read two at once. Kindle, so I can read at night and when commuting and physical books when I’m home.

Reading at home or everywhere?

I like to “curl up with a good book” at home. I do enjoy reading during commutes because time just flies by (planes/trains), but I get sick reading in the car or on ships :/

Reading out loud or silently in your head?

Definitely silently.

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

I try to keep my physical books in their best conditions, but I wouldn’t be too sad if I messed up the spine.

Do you write in your books?

I like to take notes in a notebook, though I occasionally feel the mood to annotate my books. If I know I am forever keeping a book, sometimes I like to highlight my favorite quotes, scenes, definitions and make side bar notes.

Readabits Questions:

When do you find yourself reading?

I read during lunch breaks at work. In the evenings, I read after dinner and before bed. I also like to read on the train and occasionally sneak in a page or two during long lines at the store on my phone’s Kindle app.

What is your best setting to read in?

My bed, preferably under a warm blanket and a warm drink in reach. As summer approaches, I’d say my best setting is reading outside.

What do you do first, read or watch?

I don’t watch…shows…or movies… :’)
But if I did I must read the book first. Movies are done with after 1-3 hours and contain spoilers. I rather read about those scenes first and watch them come to life later.

What form do you prefer? Audiobook, E-Book, or Physical?

I like e-books and physical books equally as much. I don’t listen to audiobooks though. However, when it comes to physical books that I need to digest and process or learn from (textbooks, nonfiction, etc.) they have to be matte physical books. I once had a glossy Tax Principles textbook (like extra shiny) and…I couldn’t concentrate :/

Do you have a unique habit when you read?

I have a very bad commentating problem and I have pretty dramatic reactions to scenes.

Do book series have to match?

If I intend to collect my favorite series and place them on my bookshelf, I prefer they match. Otherwise, I don’t mind. I have series that are a mix of Kindle/Physical, different book covers, and different book types (one book is Hardcover, another is Mass Market Paperback.

And You?

Do you have any reading habits? If you are interested, have a go at this tag yourself and let me know! I had tons of fun and hope you do too!

Currently Reading: Reaper Drone Strike

Tea Corner (Blog)

My next book up is a book I received from Goodreads Giveaway:

Reaper: Drone Strike by Nicholas Irving with A.J. Tata. I’m a little nervous because I’m going to, off the bat, assume it’s going to have a lot of military slang/terms that I won’t understand and I’ll probably end up glued to Google half the time. However, I noticed another reviewer had mentioned the same thing and said that what jargon there is is usually explained to the reader, so I’m not too too worried.

The spine of the book says the book is on sale May 2020 and Goodreads states it’s to be released May 12th, 2020, but Amazon has it as “This title will be released on July 21, 2020.” Which ever the case, I’ll try my best to finish and review this book before the May 12th date.

Image

Book Name: Reaper: Drone Strike
Series: The Reapers Book: # 3
Author: Nicholas Irving with A.J. Tata
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Book Type: Physical > Paperback > ARC
Pages: 354
Genre: Fiction, War
Start Date: 05.04.2020
End Date: 05.16.2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Field of Prey: Book Review

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

Book Name: Field of Prey
Series: Prey Series/Lucas Davenport Book: # 24
Author: John Sandford
Book Type: Physical > Hardcover
Pages: 392
Genre: Fiction, Mystery > Crime, Thriller
Start Date: 04.23.2020
End Date: 05.03.2020
TW/CW: Rape and sexual assault, mentions of animal abuse, blood, violence.]

MY RATING

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

SUMMARY (Goodreads)

The night after the fourth of July, Layton Carlson Jr., of Red Wing, Minnesota, finally got lucky. And unlucky.
He’d picked the perfect spot to lose his virginity to his girlfriend, an abandoned farmyard in the middle of cornfields: nice, private, and quiet. The only problem was . . . something smelled bad—like, really bad. He mentioned it to a county deputy he knew, and when the cop took a look, he found a body stuffed down a cistern. And then another, and another.
By the time Lucas Davenport was called in, the police were up to fifteen bodies and counting. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, when Lucas began to investigate, he made some disturbing discoveries of his own. The victims had been killed over a great many years, one every summer, regular as clockwork. How could this have happened without anybody noticing?
Because one thing was for sure: the killer had to live close by. He was probably even someone they saw every day. . . . 

PLOT

[Spoiler…alert? Not really? I mention the killer by name, but his name is literally on page 1 so…]

The book starts out several years in the past with a waitress. She’s finishing her shift where she earns a bit extra when she helps the kitchen clean up towards the end of the night. Heather Jorgenson is nervous. She knows that, in the dead of night, the pitch darkness of the blacktop parking lot was the perfect place to get kidnapped and she was right.

She hurries with the bags, tipping them into the bin, and when her balance is off, attention diverted, R-A, having been watching her for a while, slips the sack over her head and ties it under her. He carries a screaming Heather to the car that his accomplice and friend, Horn, was waiting with. They drive, in separate cars with R-A following, where in the case a policeman may start to flag Horn down, R-A could start to driving erratically and be flagged in Horn’s stead. They think it’s a success. They would drive off with her to a shack, rape her, and kill her. It’s a system “that has worked before.” Only, Heather, knowing the dangers of the parking lot, was always careful and prepared. In the truck, she escapes the bag using a knife to cut through the sack and stab the driver, Horn, multiple deep wounds in his neck and spine, casting them into a ditch. The prologue ends with her escaping, running out for help, and Horn bleeding out in the ditch. The police never found Horn’s body.

It’s years later. Layton Burns Jr. is a recent graduate of Red Wing H.S and he’s about to get lucky. After the Fourth of July, he and his girlfriend Ginger were going to head off to an abandoned field and he was going to lose his virginity. The plan goes well and Layton went excited and extra prepared. In the dead of night, having been granted the permission to drive his mother’s Dodge Grand Caravan, he rushes out to pick up Ginger, along with his air mattress, beer, the condoms his father oh so conveniently left in an easy to find drawer, and a flashlight, just in case “he wanted to…you know…watch.” Soon he and Ginger were having the best time of their lives in his mother’s van in the dark and long abandoned fields. When Ginger steps out to relieve herself, she returns remarking that something really stinks outside. Layton takes his turn and returns agreeing.

As they pack up, Layton couldn’t dismiss the smell from his head and goes to investigate the smell (you know, because no horror movie would take place if a teenager doesn’t go investigate). It could be a deer and nothing else and in these country fields, it probably was just roadkill. Moments later, having failed their little hunt, Layton and Ginger speed away from the field, a little disturbed. The smell was too strong and too large to be any wild and decomposing animal.

Layton doesn’t feel right to just leave it and calls his older brother’s best friend, a Goodhue County Deputy, Randy Lipsky. During the day, they take a better look at the fields, tapping away at the overgrown grass, and eventually find a cistern. Old and new scratches were all around the over and when they finally pry open the Cistern, Lipsky immediately calls for backup. They’d found human remains.

By the time Lucas Davenport finally arrives, they’ve already found 17 human skulls amongst the “ten feet of cold bean soup” with at least four feet of bones at the bottom (pg. 22). There were human remains on top of remains, all dated to different years, all women, all strangled, and, as later identified, all young, pretty, and blonde. As soon as word gets out, the public go into a frenzy. The case, named the Black Hole case after the Black Hole of Calcutta, was going to be the biggest thing in the state and time was running low. The killer looked to have spaced out his killings, perhaps once a year, mostly in the summer, and the newest victim was a woman named Mary Lynn Carpenter who had recently disappeared two weeks prior. The killer was still out there.

REVIEW

This book has Lucas running around busy, trying to find the serial killer that is still out there. He’s probably a well known individual of the local communities and towns to able to travel around constantly without raising a brow. They were looking at a smart person, someone who was able to do this, clockwork, and manage to still get away with it; year after year, over several years, perhaps even for over two decades, and not get caught returning to the same cistern to dump the bodies. He’s a planner and he’s thorough. There are two types of serial killers (that I’ve mostly read of anyways): the ones that want the cops to catch them and the ones that want to get away and R-A here is doing everything in his power to get away, going as far as to target Lucas’ team if necessary.

The killer here, like in most of Sandford’s books, is introduced to the reader early (like prologue early, sometimes). You get the killer’s perspective of the chase, his frustration or relief at the cops heading in the wrong direction, and catch glimpses of his thoughts and plans for his next victim. In these books, there’s no need to guess who the bad man is. He’s right there in front of you, page 1.

This time, most of Lucas’s usual team are unavailable. Shrake and Jenkins are off to finish up a case that had previously been tying down Davenport, Flowers was on a three week vacation but even later was unavailable when he is working on an undisclosed murder of his own, and Del is off chasing old people who were smuggling and selling guns. Lucas has to tackle this case without them, but he’s not alone. With the help of his team leader, Shaffer, and a local deputy, Catrin Mattson (I thought she was kind of scary-mean at first and even Lucas said she was very snappish, tossing warnings out to multiple deputies and agents before they talk to her, but she grew on me), Lucas begins to tear down the case, but when his own team becomes the target of the serial killer, it becomes more personal.

Time is ticking and it’s not just for nabbing R-A. With the case going a good month in with hardly any progress, the media is in a frenzy looking for any news to put up. With the meat of the case gone, the piranhas attack elsewhere and the political pressure to find the killers now grows. The media and the public are all after the BCA, the police, and the Governor for the madman to be caught.

This book is fast paced, exciting, quite depressing, and even more crazy when the investigation team becomes the target of the killer. I have dropped the book screaming in anguish multiple times. R-A tries to draw them every which way to make sure he doesn’t get caught, though after all these years he knows that his curtains are due to close soon, but he swears he wants one last victim.

With the media and the public hounding them, nipping at their heels, the pressure is on to catch the killer and close the case. But with a good length of time having passed and hardly any progress besides what little surface evidence they can scavenge up, time is running out and not to mention Davenport already has his own little media problem from a past case.

This book was exciting and hard to put down, though some scenes had me taking a good breather. There were times that I screamed at the book going, “You forgot to interview that one last guy on your list! That one last guy is literally the killer but you never returned to him!” and “It’s that store! Where else do you get a set!”

There’s not much I hated about the book. I tend to dislike serial killer plots, but this one had big turns and big surprises. The man was smart and he just kept getting away. It was frustrating watching the team just chase the wrong man over and over. It was even more depressing to see the team worn down by the personal attacks and the media chewing them up and spitting them back out.

Still, I loved this book and I after my last push to “make it in time to finish the book over the weekend” I just stared at the wall afterwards. I can’t tell if I was just numb from all the reading or in shock at how it played out (though a small piece of me wasn’t surprised). I enjoyed this book and shed tears over it. Still, I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone. It’s quite graphic and there is tons of violence (please read content warning above).

A great read. Not at all cozy because I looked quite crazy distressed, pacing my living room muttering about every few chapters. I’d give it a 5/5! Another Davenport book down, plenty more for me to catch up on!