The Stranger Beside Me

 

Chilling and thoroughly researched story about one of the most notorious serial killers in history!

~ Highly recommended especially as Halloween is upcoming!!

 

 

About The Author:

Ann Rae Rule (née Stackhouse; October 22, 1931 – July 26, 2015) was an American true crime author of The Stranger Beside Me, about serial killer, and Rule’s co-worker, Ted Bundy. Rule was also known for her book Small Sacrifices, about Oregon child murderer Diane Downs. Many of Rule’s books center on murder cases that occurred in the Pacific Northwest and her adopted home state of Washington. Read more ~ Wikipedia

 

The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer

This a fast-moving thriller with an intricate plot about espionage, the FBI and political games as played out in the 90’s among foreign diplomats for the governments of Libya, Egypt, and the USA. The story is centered around Sophia Kohl the wife of Emmett Kohl, a mid-level diplomat at the American embassy in Hungary. Her husband is shot dead by an unknown gunman right after she confesses to him about having an affair. The story then follows as Sophia goes awol with a determination to find out who killed her husband and why. Her unauthorized and secretive quest set in motion an inquisition that threatens to expose years of deceit, lies, murders and cover ups.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Cairo Affair. This book starts off at a breakneck speed, and builds up intensity as the story progresses. It is a complicated and layered plot which makes it even more exciting!

This is one of those books you can’t put down because of the eye-opening discoveries that you make as you get deeper into the story. There are themes of evil schemes, betrayals, rivalries, backstabbing and deceptions all interwoven in this intricate plot.

Set in North Africa, from Hungary to Libya, Yugoslavia to Egypt, this story offers great insights into new places, people and cultures. I especially love stories that take you through foreign lands where you can learn a thing or two – this book does just that.
Pick up this book – It’s well worth your time!
Similar books – The Hidden Man by Charles Cumming, A Cold War by Amelia Levene, and The English Girl by Daniel Silva –

About The Author

Olen Steinhauer grew up in Virginia, and has since lived in Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Texas, California, Massachusetts, and New York. Outside the US, he’s lived in Croatia (when it was called Yugoslavia), the Czech Republic and Italy…Read more from Amazon

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

John Grisham writes his first nonfiction novel. This is one of the best nonfiction stories I have read. This novel is also a legal thriller just like most of his books. I couldn’t wait for the story to unravel – I was completely blown away!

This story follows Ron Williamson, an upcoming and ambitious baseball player widely expected to make the big leagues. Ron’s hopes into the big leagues crashes upon sustaining an arm injury. Consequently, he is dropped by his team – the Yankees. Roy returns home to small town Ada, and while not having anything to occupy him he starts to live the wild life – chasing women, booze and staying out late. Slowly Roy starts exhibiting some form of mental instability and soon, he is diagnosed with some form of mental illness.

Fast forward – Roy Williamson turns into a local bum and when an eighteen year old girl is found murdered, Roy and his friend Fritz are questioned, and with no physical evidence linking them to the murder are charged and found guilty for the crime. Both men are sent to death row where they serve 11 years but later exonerated by DNA evidence and thereupon released.

Grisham writes in compelling detail about the entire legal process. He delves into the intricacies of our legal system in a very engaging style that fans of legal thrillers would find it hard to put the book down. This enthralling true story explores wrongful convictions, criminal injustice, and police incompetence as show cased in the Roy Williamson tragic story.

The Innocent Man is a deeply researched and well written book. This book is a scary reality of how easily and how frequently – in our society innocent people are convicted for crimes they did not commit.

Author – John Grisham
Genre – Nonfiction
Publication Date – 2012
Pages – 448

About The Author:

“Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, he was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi, law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby—writing his first novel…” ~ More

61 HOURS -Jack Reacher by Lee, Child

Given how much I love mystery thrillers I can’t believe I never read any Lee Child’s books especially his popular Jack Reacher series. I have to tell you, all the accolades given to these series are well deserved. I borrowed an ebook copy from my local library which I read over the weekend.

Already, there are a lot of reviews about this book so I will go ahead and list some important take aways – From the title – 61 Hours you can already tell this is a count down to a major event. Jack Reacher the protagonist, an ex military man turned private investigator is a drifter. This time he hitches a ride and finds himself in a rural small town that has very limited police capabilities. As things begin to happen, a sense of an impending doom is imminent. The count down is already on which keeps you at the edge of the seat.

The author writes in simple and straight forward language – only facts that are relevant to the story – no fluff, all read meat. The book starts at a break neck speed and continues that way. The writing is third person POV, so the reader sees every angle which increases suspense.

The plot is complex where you peel away the narrative like an onion. The author creates various plot threads with each chapter ending in a cliff hanger. I love that the author takes time to build relatable characters. The reader gets to know the characters well enough where you establish some connection. As a result, I really found it hard letting some of the characters go at the end of the book.

This is a book to read when you have enough time to devote to it because you can’t put it down. Your heart’s racing and you feel you’re on roller coaster ride!

I’m not usually a huge fan of series, but I like that Jack Reacher series do not have to be read in order. Even though this is #14 in the Jack Reacher series, you can start from any book without feeling as though you’re missing anything.

If you’re a mystery thriller fan and haven’t read this book, please do yourself a great favor by grabbing one!

I really would like to read a similar book from a new author, please feel free to suggest anyone, I would really appreciate it!!

Author – Child, Lee
Publication – 2010
Pages – 528
Location – South Dakota

About the Author:

“Lee Child is the #1 internationally bestselling author of the Jack Reacher thrillers. His debut, Killing Floor, won both the Anthony and the Barry awards for Best First Mystery, and The Enemy won both the Barry and the Nero awards for Best Novel. “Jack Reacher”, the film based on the 9th novel, One Shot, stars Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, Rosamund Pike, Jai Courtney, and David Oyelowo and debuted in December 2012. Child, a native of England and a former television director, lives in New York City and the south of France with his wife and daughter”~ Amazon

Waiting to Be Heard

Author – Amanda Knox
Publication Date – April 30, 2013
Number of Pages – 480
Genre – Memoir
Geographical Setting – Perugia, Italy

This is a true story which made headlines first in 2007 when Amada Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were accused of the murder of Amanda’s room-mate Meredith Kercher a twenty-one year old foreign exchange student from outside London. Amanda and Raffaele were both found guilty and spent four years in an Italian prison after which the conviction was overturned by the supreme court acquitting them of the murder. I saw snippets of the interview Amanda Knox gave on CNN recently which got me really curious about this story, so I quickly headed out to my local library where I found a copy of this book. As soon as I started reading it, I was enthralled. I’m mostly impressed by her detailed writing, and chronological organization of events. This gut wrenching account is bound to keep the reader enthralled until the end. I was so engrossed that I read this book in one day under covers.

In this memoir, Amanda talks openly, while giving a comprehensive account of her experiences in Italy starting from her arrival in Perugia, as a free minded American girl looking to study Creative Writing at the University of Foreigners, through – when her life takes a sudden turn the day the body of her room-mate was discovered in the apartment they shared. The reader eagerly follows the story of Amanda’s court trials, conviction and eventual acquittal. Amanda bares her mind in this compelling argument making a case for her innocence using notes from her diary, news articles, court papers and documentation. She talks about questionable police conduct, the use of false and unreliable witnesses, and then launches into her four years ordeal in an Italian prison.

This book tries to answer a lot of the questions about what really happened the night of the murder and the reasons for Amanda’s “bizarre” behavior after the body was found. You will also find blow-by-blow explanations of all the accusations labeled against her as she tries to clear up any ambiguities that has clouded the case. Her argument is geared towards poking holes in the prosecutor’s hypotheses while maintaining the lack of physical evidence placing her at the murder scene. She points out how evidence were thwarted and manipulated to fit the prosecutor’s theory of what may have happened that night.

Irrespective of your position on whether Amanda and Raffaele are guilty or innocent, this book tries to get the readers understand exactly Amada’s emotional state at the time and why she may have reacted the way she did. It also uncovers the many details the media may have missed or exaggerated upon. In the final analysis, some readers may still not find her argument logical enough, however, this is an interesting and riveting account of an unfortunate period in a twenty year old girl’s life – in a foreign land with limited language skills.

I recommend this as a great read for those highly interested in the Amanda Knox’s case or those who love murder cases in general. I plan on reading Raffaele’s book also to get his point of view.

If you have to time, please check out these links…

ABC: Amanda on Meredith and the British girls ABC: Amanda on Meredith and the British girls

CNN: Amanda on her interrogation CNN: Amanda on her interrogation

Are you familiar with this case? – please feel free to share your thoughts…

Death of a Nightingale

Author – Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis
Publication Date – November 5, 2013
Number of Pages – 368 pages
Genre – Mystery
Geographical Setting – Europe

Death of a Nightingale was one of many free pre publication books I received during the recent ALA conference here in Chicago.  It is a Nordic crime fiction from best-selling authors of The Boy in the Suitcase.  I had never heard about the authors so I was not sure what to expect but I went ahead and read it. I have to say, I loved it! If you are familiar with Scandinavian crime fiction novels, then you have a pretty good idea of the background of this novel.

This is another novel I’ve read recently that takes you back and forth in time. The plot runs across cities in Europe stretching from – 1934 Ukraine through present day Denmark. Death of a Nightingale features the Nina Borg series – a red cross nurse dedicated to the cause of immigrants and the poor who cannot afford official legal representations. Nina is at this time frantically protecting an immigrant single mother Natasha and her daughter Katerina even though the police is after Natasha who they suspect to have murdered her husband in the past and recently her Danish fiancé. At the same time, the reader also follows Natasha’s story as she desperately searches for her daughter who Natasha fears might be in enormous danger regardless that her daughter has been placed under police protective custody. It does not help that while Natasha is secretly and desperately looking to find and rescue her daughter, the police is chasing after her as a suspect in the murders. The authors – Kaaberbol and Frills masterfully constructed a heart pounding complex plot that leads the reader to anxiously flip the pages as they try to uncover the shocking mystery.

My Take –

Although this story starts out with a measured pace – which almost caused me to put it down, it picks up intensity as the reader gets to the middle and continues on a break neck speed with ending twists. Death of a Nightingale is a complicated story line where the discovery of two separate bodies has police detectives piecing pieces together and racing against time in other to find the killer. I find this an emotionally charged story which draws the reader in as they watch Natasha missing her daughter terribly is over come by this fear of some evil thing be falling her baby.

The authors did a great job of creating some confusion in the minds of the readers by weaving in the aspect of a rogue detective which plants doubts about who the real killer is. Thus, the reader grapples with some questions as they read along – Why is Natasha afraid to talk about her past life in Ukraine, could that have anything to do with the murders? Natasha might be psychologically unstable, but is she capable of inflicting such substantial wounds and killing both men? And why would she also want to harm her own daughter?

This book is loaded with revelations of heart breaking secrets and deceits as a roller coaster of sad and unfortunate events from the past are brought to light.

I classify Death of a Nightingale as a great book, not only because of the detailed writing, passionate and persuasive voice, but the background elements exhibiting such a strong sense of place. I was particularly fascinated by the insights of eastern European countries as they are vividly portrayed in the novel. The reader gets some perception of the history of these cities as well as some political and cultural differences that exist among them –  which I truly appreciate as one who has never traveled that far.  This novel fed my curiosity about other cultures, that while reading the book I engaged my map app on my iPad which allowed me to follow the story and maintain a real connection with the places and times.

I would recommend this for all crime fiction readers, however readers of Scandinavian crime fiction would especially be excited for this new addition. And – Watch out as this book gets published November 2013!!
(Now I want to read their first novel – The Boy in a Suitcase which has garnered a lot of buzz …)

About the authors –

Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis are the Danish duo behind the Nina Borg series. Friis is a journalist by training, while Kaaberbøl has been a professional writer since the age of 15, with more than 2 million books sold worldwide. Their first collaboration, The Boy in the Suitcase, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, and has been translated into 27 languages ~ Authors’ info from Amazon.com

Similar titles

The Girl With The Dragon Tatto by Steig Larsson
Missing by Karin Alvtegen
The Bat by Jo Nesbo
The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Among The Missing by Morag Joss

Nightwatcher

Author: Wilson, Charles
Pages: 288
Genre: Mystery
Published: 1990
Setting: Mississippi

This novel is about the brutal rape and murder of Judith Salter a nurse at the state hospital for the mentally insane. Featuring – three escaped psychiatric inmates, suspicious police officers and a guilt stricken dad turned “detective”. Brandon Richards, the victim’s dad abandons his life and career in other to help bring justice to Judith’s killing. Is it a coincidence that these three inmates got out the same night of this tragic incidence? Evidence found on the murder scene has detectives suspecting either or all of the escaped inmates – or could there have been someone else? Judith’s ex husband, a person of questionable character becomes a suspect. Also “someone in the police force” could be killer. While grieving his daughter’s death, Richards is determined to leave no stone unturned investigating his daughter’s murder. Meanwhile, an inmate claims he might have witnessed the killing. How believable is an assertion made by a mentally ill patient?

What prompted me to read this book in the first place was the recommendation on the cover of the book given by John Grisham – an author I’m truly fond of. “Splendid! A lean tight compelling story that was over much too fast. I wanted more”. Another person described the book as “dark, scary, and truly menacing”. Regarding the last statement, I don’t find Nightwatcher that terrifying, neither does it read as spooky as the cover picture depicts.

It is rare that you find a complex plot presented in such a simple format. This is a very quick read. The author did not try to stretch the story with unnecessary details and rigmarole like you find in most mystery novels. Richard’s character very systematically obtains valuable tips and information that helps move the story rapidly. The author methodically builds up a compelling tempo while all the time leaving you guessing who could have committed this horrid act. The excitement lies in the process of walking the reader through layers of unveiling lies, deceptions, conspiracies, and cover ups by the people who were close to the victim. Gradually, shocking revelations are made of the victim’s past life which further complicates the plot. At this point, suspicions about who committed this crime becomes an open-ended question.

It is thrilling to watch as the story culminates in a surprise revelation of the murderer. This is a fun mystery/thriller read – great for the weekend. Fast readers could finish this book within a day.

If you’ve read this book, please let me know what you think…