Category Archives: Suspense/Thriller

Melissa Marr. Made for You. New York: Harper Teen, 2014.

madeforyouEva Cooper-Tilling is the town darling of fictional Jessup, North Carolina. As the granddaughter of a prominent minster and a girl born into a family with wealth and status, Eva is very popular and above reproach to most of her peers. So, it is big news when Eva is the victim of a hit-and-run, and it’s even bigger news when evidence points to the accident being a deliberate act.

While in the hospital, Eva refuses to see anyone but her closest friend Grace. But during her stay, Eva runs into her old friend Nate and the two are soon on their way to redeveloping their old friendship, but with new feelings. However, Nate and Eva’s renewed closeness only seems to make the would-be killer even more upset. The bodies of Eva’s peers start showing up with messages to Eva.

A stalker-killer and amorous feelings for Nate aren’t all Eva is dealing with after the hit-and-run. Whenever someone touches Eva she receives a vision of their death. In order to avoid these flashes, she must initiate contact with the person before they touch her. Eva confides in Grace, who is skeptical, and in Nate, who believes her. When Eva realizes that the killer will continue to go after her peers to get his message across, she quickly decides to use her new ability to her advantage. Will she be able to discover the killer before he gets his hands on her?

Throughout Made for You, readers are provided with insights into the mind of the killer, who thinks of himself as “Judge.”  This tale is a great suspenseful thriller that will capture the minds of teenagers and older readers. Do you think you can figure out who the killer is before all is revealed?

Check out this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Children & Young Adults, Marr, Melissa, Mystery, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

D. J. Molles. The Remaining. New York: Orbit, 2014.

theremaining“But a few – probably about a third – will keep fighting, even when their brain is in that state of denial. And if you’re still fighting then you are flexible. You have mental flex.”

Lee Harden is a Special Forces operative trained for the day the unthinkable occurs – the day the government shuts down. At the moment Lee and his German shepherd Tango are in a steel-and-lead encased bunker, located in the central North Carolina countryside outside of Angier, awaiting orders from Colonel Frank Reid, the commander of Project Hometown. As a part of Project Hometown, Lee is one of the forty-eight “Coordinators” stationed in bunkers in each of the states across the Continental US. Whenever directed into their bunkers, the “Coordinators” hear from Colonel Frank at a designated time every day. If forty-eight hours pass without contact with command, then Lee is to open the box containing his mission brief – this is “…the predetermined contingency plan given to him directly from the Office of the Secretary of Homeland Security.” The box contains information on what the situation will be like at the designated thirty day period of resurfacing. On July 5th, forty-eight hours have gone by and Lee must open the box.

A recording of Colonel Frank comes on outlining the impossible: Lee can tell by the sound of Colonel Frank’s voice, that he didn’t even believe what he was saying would come to pass. What the coordinators are dealing with is what scientists are calling Febrile Urocanic Reactive Yersinia or FURY for short. FURY is a plague and, since it is bacteria rather than virus, scientists are unsure of how it is spread. However, FURY has already shown “an extreme propensity for contagion,” and avoidance of contact with any infected person is advised. Early symptoms of infection are as simple as fever and overt salivation, but can also be as telling as the loss of some fine motor skills, and difficulty speaking. Once the plague progresses into illness stage, hyper-aggression and an insatiable appetite are most likely to take over, resulting in the infected feeding on their own limbs or anyone close-by. There is no cure for the infection at this time. Lee’s mission is to find survivors, protect them and work to re-institute order to the chaos that will have taken over at the fall of the American government.

Once Lee accepts the reality of the situation, he still retains unbelief in the extreme picture depicted by the recording and ventures out. Lee soon discovers that the reality is as bad as it was said to be. Quickly working past his denial, Lee fights for his life, for Tango’s, and for the lives of the survivors he encounters. Soon, Lee has gathered a small group and is on the way to join a larger collection of survivors. Along the way, he must fight to protect his group from the infected, and also from those who have taken advantage of the fall of the government and seek to establish their own rule.

The Remaining is the first novel in the popular series of the same title. Follow Lee Harden as he works to complete his mission, and save what he can of the United States of America.

Check out this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Coastal Plain, Harnett, Molles, D. J., Novels in Series, Suspense/Thriller

Stephanie Tyler. Vipers Run. New York: Signet Eclipse, 2014.

vipersrunCalla Benson works in the office of a private investigator named Bernie. When Calla’s grandmother died last year, Calla was supposed to inherit her grandmother’s money and the bar that she owned. However, Calla’s half-brother, Ned, got to the money and the bar first. Ned used their grandmother’s debit card to get to her money and forged Calla’s signature on the bar deed in order to sell it. After turning to Bernie for help finding her brother, Calla ended up working in the PI’s office. Calla may handle the office for Bernie, but his cell phone is where the most important calls come in and it is usually with him. When Bernie’s cell is left in the office and won’t stop ringing, Calla can’t help but answer – not knowing that this one call will change her life forever.

Christian Cage Owens is a former Army Ranger and also a member of the Vipers Motorcycle Club in the fictitious town of Skulls Creek, North Carolina. Cage was born into the motorcycle club life, but he was born into the Heathens Motorcycle Club. Escaping as a teenager from this corrupt club, Cage didn’t know anything but MC life and so he turned to Preacher, the leader of the Vipers. The Heathens have had it out for the Vipers ever since Cage turned on them. To protect his brother Vipers, Cage has searched out the Heathens’ secrets. Cage gathered evidence that can bring down the Heathens MC, but they found him before he had the chance to pass on the information. Cage uses his dying breath to call his Army-buddy- turned-PI, Bernie, who will know what to do with the information. Cage is surprised when Calla answers but gives her the information, ultimately endangering her life. Nevertheless, Calla provides Cage with a reason to fight for his life.

Left with Cage’s promise to find her, Calla goes on the run and ends up in the house of another friend of Cage and Bernie’s. Calla is mourning the death of a man that she never even met face-to-face, when that same man appears ready to make good on his promise. Neither can deny the connection that was forged between them, nor the passion that they share for one another.

Vipers Run is the first novel in the new Skull Creek series. This book is a romantic suspense in which the two characters will have to face the demons in their past. Calla may not be as naïve as she appears, but is she ready for the MC world? Cage has kept his promise so far, but will he look at Calla the same after learning the details of a fun college night turned nightmare?

Check out this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship, Suspense/Thriller, Van Loon, Elizabeth

R. E. Bradshaw. Rainey Nights. Oklahoma City: R. E. Bradshaw Books, 2011.

raineynightsFormer Special Agent and Behavioral Analyst Rainey Bell has just begun to settle into the family life after her resignation from the FBI. Rainey still comes onto cases as a consultant, but mostly her days are filled with her job as a bail bondsman and time spent with her girlfriend, Katie Meyers. But don’t be fooled. Rainey’s life may have slowed down but that doesn’t mean that she’s relaxed her guard. Katie is convinced that Rainey is extremely paranoid. However, Rainey’s caution is soon justified when someone from her FBI past targets those close to her. This new threat is setting out for Katie specifically.

Alone, Rainey has faced evil and madness before, but everything has changed now. There is her family to think about. By the end of her last case, Rainey and Katie had become a well-known item and are now living together. Even better, the two are planning on having a baby. Well, at least Katie is; Rainey is still in denial about what Katie having a baby will mean for her.  Will the emotional upheaval from trying to have a baby, combined with the threat upon their lives, be too much for Rainey and Katie’s fast-moving relationship to handle?

Rainey Nights is the second book in the Rainey Bell series. The first novel was a thriller as well, telling of Rainey’s being “…thrust back into the world of stalkers, rapist and serial killers by a request for help, from an old friend,” which led her to Katie. Katie has helped Rainey to find a happy and fairly quiet life that she didn’t think was possible for her. How is Rainey supposed to protect Katie, the love of her life, when it will take closing herself off from overwhelming emotions in order to get the job done? Will Rainey be able to step back and get into the killer’s head?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Bradshaw, R. E., Novels in Series, Orange, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Donna Ball. Double Dog Dare. Mountain City, GA: Blue Merle Publishing, 2013.

In this eighth book in the Raine Stockton Dog Mystery series, Raine and her energetic golden retriever Cisco have left their home in Hansonville, North Carolina.  Raine’s boyfriend Miles and his daughter Melanie have convinced Raine to go on a luxurious vacation to the island of St. Bart’s.  Upon arriving, the group is confronted with the news of a “tragic diving accident” that is being investigated. But, why would they close down such a big area to investigate an accident? Is it just because the accident involved a celebrity or is there more going on? Our heroine may be taking time off from her kennel business but it doesn’t look like she’ll get a break from mysteries that need solving.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Ball, Donna, Novels in Series, Suspense/Thriller

Sallie Bissell. Deadliest of Sins. Woodbury, MN: Midnight Ink, 2014.

Deadliest of SinsA simple runaway or a more sinister case of kidnapping? Sixteen year-old Samantha Buchanan was last seen driving home late one night from a babysitting job. Her stepfather Gudger’s car was found on the side of Highway 74 with the keys in the ignition and Samantha’s wallet and purse inside the car. But there was no trace of Samantha and no sign of a struggle that would indicate her disappearance as foul play. Campbell County cops are sure that Samantha must have run off with her boyfriend. Gudger, ex-military and a former cop, close with his fellow officers, has supported this conclusion. Samantha’s younger brother Chase is driven by his intuition that Samantha didn’t intentionally flee from their rural town, bordering Charlotte and Gastonia. He’s convinced that Sam was targeted and taken, and he has an awful feeling that Grudger was somehow involved.

Meanwhile, at the whim of North Carolina governor Ann Chandler, special prosecutor Mary Crow finds herself temporarily and involuntarily reassigned to Campbell County. The governor wants Mary to investigate the recent murder of Brandon Taylor, a young gay man who was brutally beaten and his body dumped in the county. One year earlier, another gay man was found murdered in a nearby county. Governor Chandler believes that the infamous Reverend Trull might have some connection to the attacks – or at least, she would like to believe so. A video of one of Reverend Trull’s homophobic sermons, proclaiming that gays and lesbians should be separated and contained, has gone viral on YouTube. Ever since, the governor has struggled in negotiations to bring businesses to the state. She’s concerned about an upcoming meeting with Ecotron Corporation, a company that could offer 500 new jobs to Campbell County. With Reverend Trull in the headlines, Governor Chandler is worried that he will scare off their best chance to improve the county’s deplorable ten percent unemployment rate. She hopes to mitigate Reverend Trull’s extreme sermons and high-profile with the assurance that special prosecutor Mary Crow is examining traces of homophobic conspiracies down in Campbell County.

Mary isn’t interested in digging through the Taylor case – especially since she’s sure the local DAs will feel threatened by her presence, encroaching on their turf – and she is less certain than Governor Chandler that a case can be brought against Reverend Trull. Hateful though his words may be, his sermons are still protected speech. As the Governor’s special prosecutor though, she’s prepared to fulfill her obligations. Before Mary departs, she discovers Chase Buchanan sitting on her doorstep. He managed to hitch a ride on a peach truck from Campbell County to Asheville. After reading Mary’s name in the Campbell County Clarion, he is set on seeking out Mary. Chase implores Mary to track down his missing sister. He fills her in on all the details of Samantha’s disappearance. However, Mary again is skeptical; she appreciate Chase’s concern about his sister, but from her outside viewpoint, her instinct tells her that Sam escaped from a dead-end town and a lousy stepfather.

But Mary ought to tread with caution. There’s a nickname for Highway 74: la carretera del dolor, “the road of sorrows.” The area’s Latino population named it such because “it carries them far from home to a lot of hard work and pain.” There’s something darker than she expects linked to Highway 74 and Campbell County. She better keep her wits sharp, lest she fall prey to the disturbing truth herself.

Sallie Bissell writes another gripping thriller for her Mary Crow series. Deadliest of Sins is the sixth book in the series, and like the first five, it covers some hard territory. Read about Bissell’s other novels in past blog posts here. Mary Crow is a tough, level-headed protagonist with plenty of moxie, and the plot lines are reminiscent of cases you might see on Law & Order, and its spinoffs, Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent. Readers who favor suspense and mystery are sure to get hooked on Mary Crow, but they might be haunted by the fictionalized events that seem all too real in Bissell’s unflinching reflection of the dark side of human nature and its rapacious hunger for flesh and profit.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Bissell, Sallie, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Larry Rochelle. Back to the Rat. Chapel Hill: Larry Rochelle, 2013.

Back to the Rat has a ripped-from-the-headlines feel: an athletic scandal is tarnishing UNC’s reputation and an NCAA investigation of it is itself a questionable endeavor; shadowy figures who may or may not work for the government drug and kidnap the hero; and locals who hope that a beloved Chapel Hill landmark may be resurrected.  Palmer Morel, a forty-something tennis pro is in the midst of all this.

Palmer lives just south of Chapel Hill and as his tennis fortunes have waned, he’s picked up a dubious second career as a bag man for a local mobster, Chucky Minori. He needs the money, but he needs something more too.  At the suggestion of a friend who notices his down mood, Palmer visits The Body Shop, a Carrboro dance therapy center.  There Palmer encounters Pris Price, who he fantasizes could cure all his ills.  Pris both rebuffs and bewitches him, drawing him into danger and an immense conspiracy.

Readers who know the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area will enjoy Mr. Rochelle’s use of local landmarks as the settings for many key scenes.  And Palmer’s confidant and caper partner, the columnist “Barry Cinders”, will bring to mind a certain News & Observer columnist.  But one need not be steeped in local lore to enjoy Back to the Rat.

Back to the Rat is fourteenth Palmer Morel thriller. Morel’s adventures have taken him across the United States, from Kansas City to Biloxi, to Chapel Hill and points in between.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Novels in Series, Orange, Piedmont, Rochelle, Larry, Suspense/Thriller

Lights, Camera, Novel: James Patterson’s Kiss the Girls.

Kiss the Girls Movie PosterJames Patterson’s Alex Cross series was perfectly timed for moviegoers of the nineties who were primed for psychological thrillers after a number of popular hits. Reviewers drew comparisons between Kiss the Girls and other releases like Silence of the Lambs and Se7en. However, the comparisons between the films were not entirely favorable. Kiss the Girls starred Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd, whose career was just beginning to accelerate.

The novel follows forensic psychologist Alex Cross as he learns that his niece Naomi, a law student at Duke, was kidnapped by a lascivious serial killer who masquerades under the pseudonym, Casanova. Cross abandons DC for Durham. His emotions are high and he is focused on finding Naomi before it’s too late. Meanwhile, medical intern Kate McTiernan is Casanova’s latest victim, but not for long. McTiernan manages to escape, which makes her the anomalous sole survivor. She and Cross team up to uncover Casanova’s true identity and rescue the other victims still languishing in Casanova’s “harem.”

Kiss the Girls is Patterson’s only novel that features a North Carolina setting. But Patterson layered plenty of authenticating detail in his book to evoke the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. Filming locations for the movie adaptation were largely limited to Durham, and of course, Los Angeles. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill did not to approve the film’s request to use the university’s campus during shooting.

In the past, the University has a mixed record of accepting some requests to film on campus, but rejecting others. According to a Daily Tarheel article from 2001, UNC’s major ruling factor is maintaining the University’s image. The University also considers how the project might provide opportunities or disruptions to campus life. Ultimately, the University decided against Kiss the Girls due to its graphic content. Chapel Hill officials did not consent to give the producers permission to shut down Franklin Street for filming.

Although Kiss the Girls is second in the Cross series it was adapted first. Along Came a Spider, the first novel in the series, was a follow-up in 2001. While Kiss the Girls performed well at the box office, critics panned the film for pacing issues and a lack of uniqueness. Both Freeman and Judd were commended for their performances however. In 2012, Tyler Perry starred in an Alex Cross reboot. There are plans for a sequel reportedly.

The clip below, from Movie Clips, shows a scene following Kate’s escape where she delivers a statement to the press:

The movie version is a bit more solemn than the novel. In the book, Kate’s introductory remarks are self-deprecating and elicit a few smiles. More or less, the monologues match up.  But both versions represent Kate as a strong and intelligent character, in spite of her ordeal.

Patterson’s novel is available through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog. There are copies at Davis Library and Wilson Library. The film adaptation is available through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog as well. Copies can be found at the Media Resources Center in the Undergraduate Library and Wilson Library. The original blog post for the novel is here.

Sources consulted here: The Baltimore Sun, The Daily Tarheel (two different articles), Film Journal InternationalIMDb, Movie Clips, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Roger Ebert, The Washington Post (two different reviews), Wikipedia

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Filed under 1990-1999, 1997, Durham, Orange, Patterson, James, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Lights, Camera, Novel: Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan Series.

Kathy Reichs and Emily Deschanel

Kathy Reichs (left), author of Temperance Brennan series and Emily Deschanel (right) star of Bones, a TV show loosely adapted from Reichs’ series. Image courtesy of www.kathyreichs.com/bones.

From the outset it was important to me that the heroine of the series differ somewhat from that in my books. If the two were identical, how would that impact future novels? I often give nicknames to the victims I analyze at my lab. I guess I’ve done that with Bones, labeling the two manifestations of my character “TV Tempe” and “Book Tempe.”

-Kathy Reichs, from her sub-site on Bones

Bones is approaching the ten-year mark. Season nine is well underway and the popular crime drama has been renewed for another season. But before there was Bones, forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs penned the Temperance Brennan series. Reichs has mentioned during interviews that she began writing the series after she became a tenured professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. After authoring journal articles and textbooks, Reichs was interested in trying something new. Fiction seemed like the best way to share science with a more generalized audience.

Reichs wrote Déjà Dead, the first book in the series in 1997. Now, in 2014, there are sixteen books in total, with number seventeen due out at some point in the next year. Reichs’ Temperance Brennan series and subsequent Bones TV adaptation, which debuted in 2005, have infiltrated pop culture. But the two formats, more aptly, the two Tempes, are quite different across several categories.

“Book Tempe” is a little older than “TV Tempe” and more situated in her career. She’s also a divorced mom whereas her TV counterpart is has never been married and is child-free. “TV Tempe” works at the fictional Jeffersonian Institute in Washington, D.C. and “Book Tempe” splits her time, much like Reichs, between teaching at UNC-Charlotte and assisting on crime scenes at the Laboratoire des Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale in Montreal. Both deal with personal problems. For instance “Book Tempe” negotiates her past alcoholism whereas “TV Tempe” struggles with her deficient social skills and lack of pop culture knowledge (an ongoing joke in the show); her behavior has been remarked on for its characteristics reminiscent of autism.

The Tempes have at least two things in common though – each series is long-running and each exists as a result of the support and input of Reichs. In the case of the novels, Reichs is the author, tapping into her life experience. On Bones, Reichs is a producer who balances the entertainment with scientific accuracy. Reichs has written one episode for Bones, “The Witch in the Wardrobe,” which aired in 2010 (Season 5, Episode 20). They might be markedly different, but the two incarnations of Tempe have Reich’s stamp of approval. Audiences can feel free to love two versions of the same woman.

While Bones is not available through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog, all of the published books in the Temperance Brennan series are available. You can read a previous synopsis of the series here. This blog has individual entries on Death du Jour, Deadly Decisions, Fatal Voyage, Bare Bones, Devil Bones, Spider Bones, Flash and Bones and Bones of the Lost.

Sources consulted here: Bones Wiki (two different entries), E! Online, IGN, Kathy Reichs, NPR, Screen Rant, Wikipedia (two different entries)

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2005, Mystery, Reichs, Kathy, Suspense/Thriller

Janice Lane Palko. Cape Cursed. United States: Plenum Publishing, 2013.

Relocating the Cape Destiny Lighthouse is a high stakes venture for Bliss Sherman.  Moving a structure its size and age is no easy task, and many of the locals oppose relocating the historic structure.  This project will be the first really big job that Sherman Engineering has done since Bliss create the company after splitting (personally and professionally) from the established engineering firm headed by her ex-husband.  This high profile job has brought Bliss a lot of media attention.  Since few engineering firms are headed by Amerasian women, and Bliss is an attractive woman with a compelling story, she has been asked for interviews by everyone from People to the local high school paper.  The project needs to be a success–and on budget.

Bliss is grateful to have good people working for her–Randy, a hands-on crew manager and Nancy, an administrative assistant.  Nancy is a godsend, working around Bliss’s dyslexia to keep the office running smoothly and handling dozen of small personal matters for Bliss.  But will a good plan, the right equipment, and a good crew be enough?  When the company’s equipment is vandalized and Bliss assaulted, Bliss begins to worry.  Is the lighthouse really cursed–do bad things happen to people associated with it? Is her ex-husband, now a professional rival, behind these troubles?  Or are some locals–including that handsome Parker Swain–so committed to stopping the move that they have resorted to violence?  The suspense builds as Bliss struggles to decide who to trust in a situation that has become professionally and personally perilous.

The controversy surrounding moving the fictitious Cape Destiny Lighthouse will remind many readers of the arguments over the relocation of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in 1999.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Palko, Janice Lane, Suspense/Thriller