ARC REVIEW: Missing – by Monty Marsden

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Title: Missing
Author: Monty Marsden

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 1st 2016
Publisher: Aria
Finished reading: February 1st 2017
Pages: 266
Rating 2,5qqq

“Patience is like a tree – the roots are bitter, but the fruits are most sweet.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Aria in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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This story was actually published over two months ago, but somehow it got mixed up with other ARCs and I didn’t read it on time. Oops? I always have a weak spot for a good thriller and I have an (unhealthy?) obsession for stories about serial killers. Add an Italian setting and I was sold as soon as I read the blurb of Missing. The author Monty Marsden is actually Italian; something I didn’t realize immediately, but it shows in the detailed descriptions and this book is in fact actually a translation. I was completely ready to dive into this serial killer mystery, but I ended up taking a very long time to finish it. I’m not sure if part of the essence of this story is lost in translation, but it all just felt way too chaotic and it took a long time before things started to make sense for me. The many POV switches distracted from the main plot and had me confused which characters were actually important in the story. That said, the introduction of Claps, suffering from aphasia (the struggle to comprehend and use words and verbal expressions) added a whole different level to the plot. He is a truly fascinating character and I enjoyed following his development. All in all Missing is not the best mystery I’ve read, although part might have been lost in translation and it did have its charm.

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Ami lives with her family in a little village in Lombardy, a seemingly safe and dusty place. But that is until one day Ami steps out of her house to go to school and never comes back nor did she ever make it to school. Her father raises the alarm and they start an immediate search for the little girl. Police Commisioner Sensi leads the investigation, and they seem to have found a trail straight away. But three months later, they still haven’t found Ami and they don’t have a solid lead as to what happened to her. Sensi decides to talk to his old friend Dr. Claps, a renowned criminologist who had to retire after suffering from aphasia. Because Ami doesn’t seem to be the only little girl who went missing, and Sensi needs all the help he can get to solve the mystery…

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I was really looking forward to Missing, especially after I found out about its Italian setting and the involvement of a serial killer. It’s not that the case itself isn’t intriguing and I really enjoyed the setting, but I somehow I had a really hard time reading this story. It just all felt chaotic with too many different characters/POVs being introduced without a proper connection… And I had a hard time understanding the relevance of some of the chapters. Things started to make sense later on in the story, but for me it was too little too late. Missing is a story with a lot of potential and interesting characters, and I kind of wish my Italian would be good enough to read the original version just to see if it was just the translation that let me down…


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BOOK REVIEW: Heartsick – by Chelsea Cain

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Title: Heartsick
(Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #1)
Author: Chelsea Cain
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
First published: 2007
Finished reading: May 29th 2016 
Pages: 421
Rating 4,5qqq

“Even the most blatant assholes seemed to function in a state of grace when confronted with the brutal loss of a loved one. ”

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I have been having a lot of back luck with my mystery/thriller reads lately, but I decided to give Heartsick by Chelsea Cain a go anyway since various people have recommended this series to me in the past. And now I’ve read it I totally agree with them; this is definitely one of my favorite newly discovered whodunit reads! I will definitely be continuing this series soon, because this first book of the Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell series was fast-paced, entertaining and had just the right amount of plot twists and gruesome details. It is true that some of the scenes might not be for those with a weak stomach, but the descriptions are really well done and add to the character development and general plot. My only small point of criticism would be that the main character Archie is quite the stereotype for the typical detective story: he has a really messed up personal life and that seems to be the norm for just about every succesful detective in these kind of series. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing and it works rather well in this book, but it is not exactly original either. Still, the rest of the story is definitely good enough to make up for it. Recommended!

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Archie Sheridan had been hunting down the beautiful serial killer Gretchen Lowell for a long time before she decided to capture him as her latest victim. Somehow Archie survived the ten days of horrifying physical and mental torture, and what is even more remarkable is that Gretchen actually ended up saving his life and handing herself in. And even two years after the fact, nobody understands why she did what she did. Archie has been so traumatized by the events that he has been on medical leave ever since and no longer lives with his wife, but with a new killer on the loose he is asked to return to his job. He is not sure he is fit to return, but he seems to be the only person qualified to understand the mind of this new psychopath. Will Archie be able to finally confront his demons of the past and catch this killer before any more teenage girls are being kidnapped and killed?

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Heartsick turned out to be one of the best whodunit reads I’ve read in a while. I will definitely be reading more of this series! While Archie might be a bit of a stereotype and not exactly original, there is no doubt that Gretchen is one of the creepiest and most messed up serial killers I’ve read about in a long time. Actually, some of the scenes might be a bit gruesome if you have a weak stomach… But they do add something to the story. If you are looking for a good whodunit, definitely consider reading this series.

BOOK REVIEW: Blood Of My Blood – by Barry Lyga

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Title: Blood Of My Blood
(Jasper Dent #3)
Author: Barry Lyga
Genre: YA, Thriller, Horror
First published: September 9th 2014
Finished reading: August 7th 2015
Pages: 464
Rating 5

“He wasn’t just dead; he was severely dead. He was one of the deadest people Hughes had ever seen, and Hughes had seen quite a few.”

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I think most people have realized by now how much I love the Jasper Dent series. The third and final book of the trilogy isn’t an exception. Game ended with a huge cliffhanger and therefore Blood Of My Blood has a fast pace from the beginning. Barry Lyga writes in a way that makes it almost impossible to stop reading and I literally finished this last book in less than 24 hours. The prose, characters, plot… Everything is simply brilliant. And I’m not even talking about the mayor plot twists in Blood Of My Blood! I won’t give away any spoilers, but there were many things I definitely didn’t see coming. The ending was satisfying; although I’m a bit sad I had to say goodbye to some of my newest favorite characters. This series is definitely recommended to those who appreciate a good thriller/horror read!

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WARNING: do not read this summary if you haven’t read the first two books of this series yet! It will most likely contain spoilers, even though I’ve made sure to keep it short.

Jazz has been shot in New York while he was hunting the Dog/Hat killer and things are not looking good for him. They left him to die… His girlfriend Connie isn’t much better off in the hands of his serial killer father Billy, and his best friend is currently bleeding to death on the floor of Jazz’ home. Jazz is still determined to stop his murderous father, but how will he be able to get out of this mess? And what about his girlfriend and best friend? It looks like Jazz has more on his plate than he can handle this time…

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Barry Lyga is easily one of my new favorite authors. I have loved every single book of the trilogy and in a way I’m a bit sad it’s over… The main character Jazz simply makes this series into something special. Action and horror are mixed with humor and form the perfect formula for an amazing YA thriller/horror read. I cannot repeat enough how much I loved reading I Hunt Killers, Game and Blood Of My Blood and I would recommend it to everyone who enjoys reading the genre. Warning: this series is highly addictive! 😀

BOOK REVIEW: Lucky Day – by Barry Lyga

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Title: Lucky Day
(Jasper Dent #0.1)
Author: Barry Lyga
Genre: YA, Thriller, Horror
First published: April 1st 2014
Finished reading: July 24th 2015
Pages: 100
Rating 3,5

“But you know, sometimes the fight itself is worthwile, even if the prize at the end ain’t.”

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I really loved the first two books in the Jasper Dent series, but I also don’t want the story to be over yet… I decided to read this prequel novella first. Lucky Day is the first and longest out of the four novellas available and quite interesting. It’s not as good as the actual series, but I guess that’s mostly because Jazz is such a key character and the focus in Lucky Day is on Sheriff G. William Tanner. We follow him as he tries to catch the killer of two local girls and you learn a bit more about his character. Billy makes his appearance and you get a better idea how he was able to fool everyone for so long. But it really shows that Barry Lyga hit the jackpot when he created Jazz as his main character; there is a spark missing in this novella that I Hunt Killers and Game do have. Still, it’s an interesting and quick read that will definitely entertain you.

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Lobo’s Nod used to be a real quiet town, but that ended when a local girl went missing. Sheriff G. William Tanner is running for his last reelection and hasn’t been himself after the death of his wife, but he is still determined to find the girl. Then the impossible happens: a dead girl shows up, and it isn’t the missing girl. Tanner is now convinced they are both dead and that they are looking for a murderer that will probably kill again. And a killer that really knows Lobo’s Nod. But can it be really true that the murderer is among those Tanner already knows? The trail has gone cold, but Tanner doesn’t want to give up looking for the killer. Only luck can help him now…

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This prequel novella is all about how Sheriff G. William Tanner was able to catch the infamous serial killer Billy Dent. It’s a quick and entertaining read, but it misses the spark that makes I Hunt Killers and Game so special. I guess that’s mostly because Jazz and his friends are not a part of this novella… Because the prose has the same quality as the actual series. Still, I would definitely recommend this read if you enjoyed the series! It doesn’t really contain spoilers, so it can be read either before or after reading I Hunt Killers.

BOOK REVIEW: Game – by Barry Lyga

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Title: Game
(Jasper Dent #2)
Author: Barry Lyga
Genre: YA, Thriller, Horror
First published: April 16th 2013
Finished reading: July 19th 2015
Pages: 520
Rating 5

“Well, of course it was Billy screwing with his mind. That’s what Billy did. Dear Old Dad had a PhD in mind screwing. The question was, was it just Billy screwing with his mind?”

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How do I even start describing my love for this series?! I almost feel I need to invent a 6 star rating just to express how much I have been enjoying the first two books of the Jasper Dent series. The mystery/thriller/horror genre is one of my favorites and Barry Lyga has moved straight to the list of my favorite authors of that genre. Game is, like I Hunt Killers, simply a masterpiece; disturbing, scary, brilliantly written and it keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. And that ending! I normally don’t like cliffhangers, but in this case the author is forgiven. What a plot twist and a way to end this sequel! The pace is fast and Barry Lyga does a more than excellent job of describing the main character Jazz and his inner conflicts. Growing up with his Dear Old Dad being an infamous serial killer definitely left its mark… But I love how determined he is to fight his destiny and hunt down both his dad and the newest serial killer in town. If you haven’t read this series yet and enjoy the genre: this one is a definite must-read!

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WARNING: do not read this summary if you haven’t read I Hunt Killers yet! It will most likely contain spoilers, even though I’ve made sure to keep it short.

Jazz thought he was finally free of his serial killer dad Billy back when he was sent to prison four years ago… But Dear Old Dad managed to escape and is haunting his boy yet again. Jazz is desperate to prove he will not follow in his father’s footsteps. When a NY detective asks for his help in the Hat-Dog Killer case, he decides it’s time to do as his new tattoo says and ‘hunt killers’. Not everybody agrees to his presence in New York and it looks like the Hat-Dog Killer wants to play with both him and his girlfriend Connie. And what has his father to do with all of this? Jazz doesn’t think his father can resist his urge to kill for to long…

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I know it looks a lot like I am fangirling all over the place, but this series is just SO good. Game was just as brilliant as the first book, I Hunt Killers, and definitely left me wanting for more. The prose, the setting, the characters, the suspense… Everything  justworks perfectly together. If you add that up with a dose of creepy and even a little humor, you have the ingredients for the perfect YA thriller/horror read. Seriously addicting and without doubt worth reading!

BOOK REVIEW: I Hunt Killers – by Barry Lyga

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Title: I Hunt Killers
(Jasper Dent #1)
Author: Barry Lyga
Genre: YA, Thriller, Horror
First published: April 3rd 2012
Finished reading: July 6th 2015
Pages: 359
Rating 5

“You won’t even know you’ve crossed the line until it’s way back in your rearview mirror.”

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I was in the mood for a good thriller/mystery read the other week and decided to pick up my copy of I Hunt Killers. I ended up getting exactly what I wished for and more! This read is creepy, disturbing… But SO good! The main character Jasper ‘Jazz’ Dent is the son of a serial killer that has over one hundred victims on his name. His father has been caught four years ago, but Jasper is afraid he might end up following in his father’s footsteps since he didn’t exactly have a normal childhood. Jazz is such an interesting character and I really like his best friend Howie and his girlfriend Connie as well. This first book of the Jasper Dent series shows the internal struggle Jazz has to face and his determination to not turn into a murderer like his father wants and most others expect. Barry Lyga was able to mix horror elements with humor and great prose. The only downside is that I Hunt Killers ends with a mayor cliffhanger… Which leaves me no other choice than reading the sequel ASAP. Recommended!

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Jasper ‘Jazz’ Dent looks like a normal and very charming teenager, but he has an infamous past. His father is one of the biggest serial killers around and until Jazz was thirteen and Dear Old Billy got caught, his father trained him to follow in his footsteps. It’s been four years since his dad was sent to prison, and Jazz is desperately to try and live a normal life. It’s hard to ignore his urges and his father’s lessons, but he really doesn’t want to be a killer… But the truth is, he DOES know a lot about serial killers and their ammo. So when another body turns up dead in his small town, Jazz is sure there is another serial killer on the loose. The police first don’t want to believe him, but soon find out they will need Jazz’ help…

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This thriller/horror read is both terrifying and funny at the same time. The prose and fast pace make it easy to read and it didn’t take me long to finish I Hunt Killers. The final chapters were so exciting that I was sitting on the edge of my seat and couldn’t stop reading! A delightfully messed up and disturbing read and definitely recommended to those who love to read a good thriller/horror story.