Book Review: My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni

mysistersgrave

An ex-sharp shooting chemistry teacher turned homicide detective investigates the death of her sister after remains are discovered that force her to question the innocence of the man who was convicted of the murder twenty years ago.

Sounds a little ridiculous, yeah? Well, for the most part it isn’t. Tracy Crosswhite is an intriguing character on her own, but I could have done without the wild west cowboy shooting history. It didn’t add much to the depth of her character, and seemed a bit silly. I think Dugoni was searching for a way to delve into the relationship between Tracy and her sister, Sarah, and needed a setting for the flashbacks. I get that. But I found the whole premise a bit ridiculous. The western shooting that is, not the actual plot. The plot was amazing!

With thrillers, it is always hard to do justice to the story in a review without giving away a bit too much. What I can say is, give it a chance past the first two chapters. Seriously, the western thing kind of calms down and it gets more intriguing. Like, exceptionally more intriguing.

The romance is not overdone. It’s believable and doesn’t detract from the story.

However, the best part of this story is obviously the mystery. The suspense that innately comes with a who-done-it kind of criminal thriller. It keeps you guessing while constantly making you question yourself. It has just enough twists to keep you hooked, while not becoming exhausting.

The last quarter of this novel was some of the best suspense I’ve ever read. It gives you that heart pumping, slightly claustrophobic, feeling in your chest. The pacing is so well done, that you should just plan to read at least the last quarter in one sitting. Seriously, carve out the time or else you will burn dinner and maybe lose a child somewhere. I clearly am not talking from experience. Probably.

There is a sequel to My Sister’s Grave called Her Last Breath, which is less of a sequel and more of a continuation of Tracy’s character, not of the first story arc. I’m only about 15% in, but I would already recommend reading My Sister’s Grave first, unless you want some spoilers. In which case I question your reading habits. But, to each their own.

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The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Banes

TheNaturals

First off, HUGE thanks to Niki over @ The Obsessive Bookseller for sending me this book! She loved it so much, when she got the chance to meet the lovely Jennifer Lynn Barnes, she had her sign a hardcover to give away! Yay for winning things! Especially things that are this good.

Seriously, this was that good.

Here is the blurb from goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

There is a review quote on the front cover from Ally Carter. It says, “The Naturals is Criminal Minds for the YA world, and I loved every page.”

If I had to describe what I thought about this novel in one sentence, I would agree with Ally Carter word for word. You know when they have Criminal Minds marathon’s on and you just binge watch it, and then try to go to bed, and have already freaked yourself out so bad you have to get back up and watch a cartoon or read a Harry Potter book to be able to go to sleep? No? That’s just me?……awkward.

Anyway- The Naturals will give you that same kind of thrill. It’s not too long, I read it in a little under a day. Basically because I literally couldn’t put it down.

It’s been a minute since I have read any kind of suspense/crime novel. I burned myself out with Mary Higgins Clark in high school. I went through a bit of a phase and read every one I could get my hands on. The problem with that though is that all of the stories start to look a bit the same, and you can guess the ending quite easily.

The Naturals is nothing like that. It is a perfect mix of suspense and character development. The whole concept of these teens being able to read each other so well, whether it be Michael with emotions, behavior like Dean and Cassie, deceit like Lia, or crime scenes like Sloane (btw- how badass is a name like Sloane for a girl? awesome!), is that the character development lays itself out perfectly. You can get to know these all of these characters in such a short amount of pages because they can know everything about someone at a glance. Being inside a narrators head that can do that is awesome. It’s like if we read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories strictly from Sherlock’s perspective.

The most terrifying thing about this novel, is that it has the tiniest bit of duel perspective. Every three or four chapters is a tiny little blurb from the killers POV. These are only ever between a half a page and a full page. Never enough to let us know anything about them that will clue us in to who they are, but just enough to keep us interested.

I really hope that this is going to be a series! Barnes has set this up to go any number of ways. She could continue the series about the program from her perspective, or could just as easily make a different book about each of the characters we meet in the program.

Fingers crossed!

Seriously guys, go read this book. Even if you have never liked the crime genre before, this one just might change your mind!