M2D4 Toe Tag: 1 Last Betrayal by Valerie J. Brooks

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1 Last Betrayal is a thriller. Angeline Porter is picking up where she left off from the 2nd book in the series, Tainted Times 2, putting it all on the line for her half-sister. Bibi has disappeared and based on the last few texts, it wasn’t willingly. Angeline flies from Oregon to Florida to extract her sister from a hornets nest that includes a local detective, an ethically questionable FBI agent, a totally unethical mob queen, and a half-brother who only wants to be her family.

Bottom line: 1 Last Betrayal is for you if you like intricately woven plots that unravel one knot at a time.

Strengths of the story. 1 Last Betrayal checks a lot of boxes on the thriller checklist. First, the lead character being in mortal danger — check. Angeline, who is also called Ang, Angie, and Porter, is held at gun point, beaten, and kidnapped. She jumps from frying pan to frying pan, never quite knowing where the fire is. Second, the story has to resolve within a certain time — check. After 24 hours, most missing persons cases don’t end with a living resolution, according to the book. Three, the motivations of the other characters are hidden from the lead — check. Every one of the people helping Angeline has an ulterior motive, but those secrets are tightly held.

Where the story fell short of ideal: It is common in thrillers to have scenes from the point of view of multiple characters, enabling us readers to know what is going on and to be anxious on behalf of our heroes. 1 Last Betrayal is told only from Angeline’s point of view. In a story based on false motives, Angeline becomes confused about what is really going on. Without the ballast of other points of view for us to root in, the chaos element is dominant in the middle section of the book. For those who thrive on chaos, you’ll love it. For those who don’t, stick with it and enjoy the ride.

1 Last Betrayal is the 3rd book in a trilogy. I recommend reading the earlier books, Revenge in 3 Parts, and Tainted Times 2 first. Ms. Brooks last installment continues with characters and situations built in the first episodes. For maximum enjoyment, start from the beginning, likely an unnecessary recommendation as most of us wouldn’t conceive of starting a series anywhere but book 1. Links to all three books are in the show notes.

M2D4 Toe Tag: The Midnight Call by Jode Millman

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The Midnight Call is a legal thriller. Jessica Martin is a corporate attorney whose mentor, Terence Butterfield, is in big trouble – the bloody kind. Jeremy Riley is the past-his-prime defense attorney Jess brings in to defend Terence. Hal Samuels is the Assistant District Attorney pressured to make sure justice is a big, public win. But it’s not that easy – it never is. Past relationships cloud the facts until the web is indeed a tangled one.

Bottom line: The Midnight Call is for you if you like thrillers rooted in a court room with drama driven by personal choices of good people put in bad situations.

Strengths of the story. The story is told in three parts. In the first, we see firsthand the wheels that are set in motion by the midnight call. From the opening phrases through the Grand Jury, the story is well crafted, working through the angst and strategy of a murder trial. The middle part of the story shifts focus to the private lives of the main characters and how the publicity and pressure of the trial affects their choices and their families. The characters are put in difficult situations, and we watch as, for some, emotion overrules good judgement. The final sequence returns to the trial, where the lawyers roll up their sleeves and finish the job. The story telling throughout is detailed and reasoned.

Where the story fell short of ideal: Compared to other legal thrillers, The Midnight Call does not go deep into the detail of the law and courtroom procedures. This will be a plus for readers who love the air of a legal thriller without the grainy detail and a minus for those who like to get so granular, sand falls from the pages. With the story focusing on the three attorneys, the accused killer Terence Butterfield is not front and center, so we do not get his side of the story. While the story tied off the legal strings, it left me with a few unanswered questions.

M2D4 Toe Tag: The Perfect Brother by Chris Patchell

Listen to the first chapter here: https://podcasts.captivate.fm/media/b5f1c273-7d6e-4459-9b0f-d7fcb51b1b4a/TT7-20Perfect-20Brother.mp3

This story is made up of two parts. The first part is suspense; the second part is amateur sleuth. This one is hard to summarize without giving too much away.

Suspense: In a university area of Vancouver, a college co-ed Katie Lord disappeared during a run. Flyers are up everywhere and the cops like her fiancé for it. Mallory Riggins isn’t thinking about Katie when she discovers her driver’s side window shattered. She’s not thinking about anything except how to pay for the repair. Which is too bad. She really should.

Mystery: Amar Saraf is the college professor his students call Dr. Hottie. His is admired by his students and is the apple of his parents’ eye. Indira is his brilliant, younger sister who bucks tradition and her parents at every turn. But even she admits, Amar is the perfect brother. Which is why, when Amar is arrested for the murder of his lover, Indira puts her software engineering skills to work to catch a killer.

Bottom line: The Perfect Brother is for you if you like suspense, dynamic amateur sleuths, and technology as an integral part of detecting.