Thus reads the message received from a Nazi commander stationed in a small castle high in the remote Transylvanian Alps. Invisible and silent, the enemy selects one victim per night, leaving the bloodless and mutilated corpses behind to terrify its future victims.
When an elite SS extermination squad is dispatched to solve the problem, the men find something that’s both powerful and terrifying. Panicked, the Nazis bring in a local expert on folklore–who just happens to be Jewish–to shed some light on the mysterious happenings. And unbeknownst to anyone, there is another visitor on his way–a man who awoke from a nightmare and immediately set out to meet his destiny.
The battle has begun: On one side, the ultimate evil created by man, and on the other…the unthinkable, unstoppable, unknowing terror that man has inevitably awakened.
The Keep by F. Paul Wilson is a supernatural thriller set at the beginning of WW II. The story is rich in history and has many elements I love—Gothic horror, immortal creatures, Romania, a creepy fortress, revenge on nazis, and a worthy nemesis in Rasalom. The book is brilliantly atmospheric.
Wilson’s descriptions are lovely. It’s a fast-paced tale with a great twist, never dull, and it has characters I loved, which is always a plus. In my opinion, it’s a fun but not a terribly scary read, but, then again, I don’t scare easily.
The best part is, I’ve found a new favorite writer in F. Paul Wison and feel as if I should have known about him long ago!
Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin and As So It Begins by Rachel Abbott are two books that provided the page-turning suspense that kept me reading but still managed to leave me disappointed.
The main reason is I need characters I can like and root for throughout the book. Please give me one, at least.
It’s particularly distressing when I think there’s one, but it turns out in the end that they all suck.
My reviews for these will be short.
Detective John Rebus: His city is being terrorized by a baffling series of murders…and he’s tied to a maniac by an invisible knot of blood. Once John Rebus served in Britain’s elite SAS. Now he’s an Edinburgh cop who hides from his memories, misses promotions and ignores a series of crank letters. But as the ghoulish killings mount and the tabloid headlines scream, Rebus cannot stop the feverish shrieks from within his own mind. Because he isn’t just one cop trying to catch a killer, he’s the man who’s got all the pieces to the puzzle…
Knots and Crosses introduces a gifted mystery novelist, a fascinating locale and the most compellingly complex detective hero at work today.
My review: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I know Ian Rankin is good. So many people recommend his work. I also know Knots and Crosses was not the best example of why he is popular.
The main character in Knots and Crosses , Detective John Rebus, does not seem to do much of anything but drink and get laid. He didn’t solve any crimes, let alone the main one. There was nothing to like about him and plenty to not like. Oh, there is sufficient reason to feel sorry for him. I felt sorry for the victims, too, and, of course, I rooted for the ones still alive, but it’s not as if you get to know them. I liked the book, sure. I just needed more.
Mark and Evie had a whirlwind romance. Evie brought Mark back to life after the sudden death of his first wife. Cleo, Mark’s sister, knows she should be happy for him. But Cleo doesn’t trust Evie…
When Evie starts having accidents at home, her friends grow concerned. Could Mark be causing her injuries? Called out to their cliff-top house one night, Sergeant Stephanie King finds two bodies entangled on blood-drenched sheets.
Where does murder begin? When the knife is raised to strike, or before, at the first thought of violence? As Evie stands trial, the jury is forced to consider – is there ever a proper defence for murder?
And So It Begins is a darkly compulsive psychological thriller with all the hallmarks of a Rachel Abbott bestseller – a provocative dilemma, richly-layered mystery, knife-edge tension, and brilliant characterization.
My review: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
This book I liked a lot. Rachel Abbott is a wonderful storyteller, and As So It Begins is a well-written page-turner. I hated the twist and the ending for personal reasons, but I can’t get into that without spoilers.
What I can say is, the detective here, Stephanie King, is nowhere near as interesting as the people involved in the mystery that unfolds. (This is her series, and she is the star, but you’d never know it.) She turns up now and then and mostly worries about her love life. I feel like the whole story could have happened without her minimal involvement. A couple of minor characters impressed me, but, as I mentioned above, I want to root for at least one of the main characters.
As an aside, I’m reading another of Rachel Abbott’s books right now called The Invitation, and I love it, but now that I’m many chapters deep into the book, Detective Stephanie King emerges once again.
Hopefully, she makes a better impression here than in the last book.
Let me preface this review with something I’ll exclude for the actual Amazon and Goodreads version.
How do you feel about revenge plots —an eye for an eye of stomach-turning torture?
Yeah, I’m not a fan, even though I read and write terrifying books without losing a wink of sleep. Of course, the cruelty is worse when it happens to the victims, but it’s painful to endure even when it happens to the culprits.
I’ve seen almost consistently in my life that people who deserve terrible things to happen to them will make those things happen on their own. They’ve lived it already, are living it now or will live it, and none of it has anything to do with me. Satisfaction can’t possibly come from the same kind of brutality—where we now have more deranged perpetrators than we did initially.
In a book or a film, it’s a fantasy. I get it. I have no harsh judgment for people who enjoy it. While I do have a good sense of humor, I can also be a buzzkill. I don’t even like catfights or cake fights, as hilarious as they may be to some. They’re spiteful and childish and, in the latter case, mess up a perfectly good cake. So I understand and accept that we’re all different in terms of what we like to see, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You think Fifty Shades of Grey is fantastic and exciting? I think it’s awful, but knock yourself out. I’m glad there’s something out there that you enjoy.
What I do like to see in terms of victim vs. culprit is justice served. That means people forever protected from those who’ve harmed them and may harm others. Even in real life, it’s never about punishment for me. It’s about self-protection and self-preservation.
So, on to the review.
T.R. Ragan (Theresa Ragan) is a New York Times bestselling mystery and thriller author. I chose to read her book because I love thrillers. Amazon recommended it based on my browsing, and the reviews encouraged me further.
Two different storylines are going on here. One was about a crime reporter named Sawyer Brooks and her sisters. They grew up in the eerie town of River Rock, where the gruesome murders of three young girls remained unresolved. Sawyer struggles to control her rage and paranoia due to the horrific abuse she suffered since she was a child. When she returns to River Rock for her grandmother’s funeral, another young teen is found dead in the same gruesome manner as the first three. Sawyer’s investigation leads to danger in River Rock’s darkest corners and reunites her with her similarly traumatized sisters.
The other story told in this book focuses on several underdeveloped characters who, while justifiably angry, were doling out torture against men who had abused them. Because of their lack of development, these women never felt real to me. Whenever their chapters came up, I couldn’t wait to get back to Sawyer. Throughout most of both stories, I wasn’t sure what the connection was. The author does tie it together eventually, and she does so quite brilliantly. On that note, I’m glad I was patient.
Don’t Make a Sound is a good, suspenseful page-turner, nicely paced with some great twists. The Brooks sisters are worth rooting for—admirable and relatable in every regard. As far as who did what and when they did it, the author certainly delivered. The ending was satisfying even with that nauseating torture stuff.
Lastly, Don’t Make a Sound is timely in terms of the “Me Too” movement. Most of us understand how distressingly common the abuse is, having been objectified and victimized since childhood. Many of us can recall multiple incidents—perhaps, too many to count, so we get it. However, if you are one of those who find the whole “Me Too” thing uncomfortable because of guilt or denial, find another book to read. And if you have no desire to learn and understand, just go away—far, far away.