Tag Archives: FBI

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 Days 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

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

C. J. Lyons. Black Sheep. New York: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 2013.

Black SheepCaitlyn Tierney likes to keep her enemies closer than her friends. In fact, she doesn’t like to be close to her friends at all. A skilled FBI agent, Tierney is a loner by choice. She pushes away well-meaning coworkers trying to bond and casual boyfriends interested in getting serious. Caitlyn isn’t much of a rule-follower. Sometimes her unorthodox approach ruffles the attitudes of more rigid agents. She suspects they would like to goad her into quitting. Tierney doesn’t have total contempt for standard regulations and textbook procedures though. She just recognizes that bad guys don’t play by the rules, so occasionally the good guys can’t either, not if they want to win.

Without friendships, Tierney’s life is her work, and she feels no regrets for committing herself fully to her job, even though it has nearly killed her twice. She is dedicated to her career despite recent difficulty that has left her scarred, literally and figuratively. However, Caitlyn is no stranger to trauma. And regardless of the physical danger and the strict protocol, she loves teaching fledgling officers. Also, her work fulfills her beloved, deceased father’s unrealized aspiration of joining the FBI.

Caitlyn grew up in the fictional mountain town of Evergreen, North Carolina. Her father, Sean, dreamed of joining the FBI, but once he met Caitlyn’s mother, Jessalyn, he abandoned his goals and became a sheriff’s deputy instead. Love overruled his ambitions. Although Sean found contentment in a future different from his initial life plan, Jessalyn never seemed satisfied with their lives. The Tierney family’s farmhouse and their small-town disappointed Jessalyn. She juggled two jobs and strove to improve their standing. When Caitlyn decided to join the FBI, Jessalyn did not approve of her only child’s career choice. Rather, Jessalyn considered it a waste of all her effort to improve the family’s stature. Needless to say, Caitlyn and Jessalyn’s relationship is strained.

But mysterious circumstances surrounding Caitlyn’s father, Sean, and her childhood friend Vonnie’s father, Eli Hale is the major source of strain within the Tierney family. After Eli was accused of murdering a Cherokee tribal elder, Sean was forced to arrest him. Like Caitlyn and Vonnie, Sean and Eli were close friends, so the arrest disturbed Sean. He argued in defense of Eli and believed firmly in his friend’s innocence. Sean’s persistence came close to costing him his job. More unfortunately however, it cost him his life. After the toll of sticking up for Eli, Sean committed suicide. Eli was convicted. And Caitlyn carried indelible scars into her future.

Now, twenty-six years later, the man Tierney holds responsible for her father’s death attempts to contact her. Eli’s youngest daughter Lena has gone missing and he begs Caitlyn to help look for her. At first, Caitlyn refuses to listen to Eli’s desperate request. Strong, unsettled memories of the past draw her into the case. Before she went missing, Lena was rooting around for evidence to verify her father’s innocence. During the unofficial manhunt, Tierney runs across a distinctive collection of clues–zoo animals, a casino, and a motorcycle club–that relate to Lena’s disappearance and her father’s strange suicide.

Before she started writing, novelist C.J. Lyons was a pediatric ER doctor. This is her second novel focused on FBI agent Caitlyn Tierney, yet it could be read easily as a stand-alone story. Lyons’ first Caitlyn Tierney novel was Hollow Bones. Black Sheep packs a surprising ending that might hoodwink even the best armchair mystery detectives.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Granville, Jackson, Lyons, C. J., Mountains, Piedmont

F. C. Etier. The Tourist Killer. Hideaway, TX: Venture Galleries, 2012.

The Tourist KillerNow that she’s approaching retirement, Claudia Barry is reconsidering her career path. Even in her early sixties, Claudia remains in sharp shape, both of body and mind. A profession like Claudia’s demands that she stays ahead of all possible curves. Mistakes are not permissible. Morals need to be set aside. And a social life isn’t an option; the hours are long and the role requires a discreet personality. But the job pays well. The life of a professional assassin isn’t easy, that’s for sure.

This last kill is routine for Claudia. But she wonders if her professional legacy, 37 – going on 38 – kills, was worth the cost. Without her work, her self-styled isolation leaves her disconnected from the rest of the world. She wears and sheds different identities at the drop of a hat, but her own identity is stunted. She has no attachments, save two equally enigmatic men who drift in and out her life; one is a mysterious mentor of sorts and the other is a former FBI agent. Her sudden self-reflection forces Claudia to confront uncomfortable questions with unclear answers. When, or if, Claudia leaves her job, what is there for her to return home to after all these years?

First-time novelist F.C. Etier cultivates an intriguing character in Claudia. The book opens with a memorable and unusual scene: a female assassin observing her assigned prey, a female serial killer. Etier writes from a removed third-person perspective, zoomed out to capture a host of distinctive characters. Although his writing is thick with authenticating details, the story is told at a fast pace. This is an action-driven work with brisk chapters that never slow down. Interspersed between the chapters are seven brief non-sequential flashbacks that provide insight into Claudia’s past and explain the choices that led her into her line of work. These flashbacks emphasize Claudia’s irresolution as she approaches her final assignment.

Her target is Brian Farrell, the CEO of the ITTA Corporation, an amoebic conglomerate headquartered in London. Farrell is a quintessential power-hungry bad guy. Like many of Claudia’s targets, it isn’t difficult to want Farrell dead. Anyone that did take Farrell out would probably not suffer from a guilty conscience for long.  Meanwhile, Farrell, in his quest for expansion, is eager to eliminate his major opponent, Julian Thibaut. Thibaut is a self-made billionaire and charming Southern gentleman with a knack for sales and financial investments. Etier develops a subplot with Thibaut driven by conspiracies and social-political commentary on the One Percent.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Etier, F. C., Mountains, Suspense/Thriller

Shirley Lerch Crum. Nailed!!! Baltimore, MD: PublishAmerica, 2006.

Cathy Cleveland and her best friend Linda Tate almost died last summer when they inadvertently got involved in a diamond smuggling scheme.  Since then Linda has been living life to its fullest, and she is about to be married to dapper airline captain David Sokol.  Cathy has a wonderful man in her life, handsome FBI agent Peter Channing, but she is keeping him at arm’s length.  As a cancer survivor, Cathy is aware that that life can take some cruel turns, so she is reluctant to let Peter, whose wife died from cancer, know how she feels about him.

John Marley has provided Cathy with a nice diversion.  Marley is a visiting professor at the college where Cathy teaches, and she enjoys his company when he is in town.  But Professor Marley is out of town quite a bit, guest lecturing at a number of colleges in the Carolinas.  He’s quite the showman, demonstrating scientific principles in exciting lectures that sometimes include walking on hot coals or lying on a bed of nails.  As this novel opens, Cathy goes by campus to pick up Marley so that they can spend the evening together.  She finds that Marley has been murdered–someone tampered with his bed of nails.

As the person who found the body, Cathy is a suspect.  But Cathy saw Peter Channing on campus shortly before Marley’s murder, and she fears that he might have been jealous enough of Marley to kill him.  The mutual distrust prevents Cathy and Peter from cooperating, and puts Cathy and Linda in danger.  John Marley’s academic career was just a cover for a sinister conspiracy to destroy a number of beach communities.  In chapters that alternate between Cathy’s activities and those of the conspirators, author Crum reveals the details of the conspiracy, the self-interests and double-dealing of the conspirators, and the reasons that Cathy’s life is in danger.  The action-packed finish takes place during the Wrightsville Beach Holiday Flotilla.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Coast, Crum, Shirley Lerch, New Hanover, Suspense/Thriller

J. J. Oxendine. Intentional Stranger. United States: CreateSpace, 2012.

It’s commonly believed that the death of a child is the hardest blow that a person can experience.  For Grace Trenton, her son’s death comes after a disruptive move from Atlanta to the mountains of North Carolina and as her marriage is crumbling.  It’s no wonder that Grace’s husband, Mark, recommends that she see Claire Matthews, a therapist in the little town of Swift River.  Grace makes progress toward accepting her son Ben’s death, but she also senses that something is going on between her husband and Claire Matthews.  It comes as no surprise to Grace when Mark asks her for a divorce.

It’s not therapy that pulls Grace out of her sadness, it’s a job at the local coffee shop.  Jo, the shop’s owner becomes not just an employer but also a friend and confidante.  She even gives Grace a secure, inexpensive place to live.  Grace’s life is back on an even keel until she is visited one morning by FBI agent Gatlin Rawls.  Rawls is investigating a money-laundering ring that may include Mark.  Rawls soon realizes that Grace knows nothing about this part of her ex-husband’s life, but Grace’s ignorance will not protect her from ruthless criminals who will do anything to cover their tracks.  The ring acts swiftly, and even after the investigation ends, Grace is still not out of danger; in a final showdown Grace finds a treasure she thought she had forever lost.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Mountains, Oxendine, J. J., Suspense/Thriller

Kay Hooper. Haven. New York: Berkley Books, 2012.

Jessie Rayburn is having nightmares. Which is even worse than one might think, because as a psychic, all of Jessie’s experiences with human emotion are amplified. She’s safely ensconced in Haven, the FBI’s Special Crimes Unit headquarters in New Mexico, but visions of young women being tortured in Baron Hollow, North Carolina are leaping out at her as clear as if she were really there. Unsurprising, perhaps, since Baron Hollow is her hometown, but Jessie knows something is wrong. Disguising her intent by arranging for a vacation home, Jessie drives across the country to the town, and sister, she ran away from fifteen years ago.

Emma Rayburn is surprised when Jessie announces her visit. They never had much in common, especially since Jessie, the elder, was psychic. Two sisters with wildly different personalities under one roof is hard enough, but when one sister can read the other’s thoughts? That’s a recipe for disaster. Since Jessie left, Emma has turned their palatial ancestral home into a popular bed and breakfast, and has been running it with a steady hand. But a riding accident a few weeks ago has disturbed Emma’s peace– she’s been having horrible nightmares about young women being tortured, and has no way to explain their existence. Jessie is the psychic one, so these dreams can’t mean anything…can they?

The first rule all psychics know is that coincidences are rare. While the sisters’ relationship may be fraught with tension, a black cloud rests on Baron Hollow, and that supersedes all other concerns. Young, female hikers have been mysteriously disappearing for years, and somehow no one has noticed. Could it be that the killer is not only very careful but also skilled in more subtle modes of mental deception? Could it be that the killer is also a psychic? Emma and Jessie, along with several other Haven operatives,  work to solve the case before anyone else goes missing, but this killer is smart, deadly, and tangled in their own personal histories.

Kay Hooper provides a thrilling continuation in this, her thirteenth novel in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series. Divided into sub-trilogies featuring different psychics on the team, each novel can be enjoyed independently, as a part of its own trilogy, or as a part of the overall series. Haven is a fast-paced, exciting addition this repertoire.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Hooper, Kay, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Suspense/Thriller

Gregory Funaro. The Impaler. New York: Pinnacle Books, 2011.

FBI Special Agent Sam Markham barely has a day to adjust to his new home in Quantico, Virginia before his boss comes calling. Another body has been found in Raleigh, North Carolina: bound, gagged and horribly impaled, just like the first two. Even though Sam is still recovering from an exhausting case in Tampa as well as dealing with the impending execution of his wife’s murderer, he doesn’t hesitate. He goes to Raleigh to hunt down the killer the press is calling the Impaler. But finding the killer is easier said than done– the Impaler has his own strange codes, symbols, and portents that lead Agent Markham and the rest of the FBI on a twisted journey through Babylonian mythology, the Iraq War, and medieval Romania.

Edmund Lambert works by day as an assistant in the theater at local Harriot College, but by night, he is the General. Meticulous in his plans, the General is laying the way for the Prince to return to Earth…but in order to do that, the General must kill. Within the ancestral Lambert family farmhouse, he reeducates his victims, and topping their headless corpses with the taxidermied head of a lion, uses them as a sacred door through which to communicate with his Prince. The hour of the Prince’s coming is getting closer, andLambert must ensure that all is in perfect readiness.

As the body count increases almost daily, Agent Markham employs all of his skills to find this monster before it’s too late. But will his work be enough? A grisly psychological thriller, this prequel to The Sculptor leaves the reader pondering the thin line between cop and killer.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Funaro, Gregory, Horror, Piedmont, Wake

Ashley Memory. Naked and Hungry. Banner Elk, NC: Ingalls Publishing Group, 2011.

H.  T. McMullen has been roughing it. Once a successful loan officer with an expensive house, car, and wife, he lost it all to the recession. Disillusioned with his formerly excessive existence, he builds a rickety cabin in the backwoods of his fictional hometown of Yatesville, North Carolina, set deep in the Smokies. McMullen is surprisingly happy living with minimal comforts and growing his own food, despite the uncomfortable proximity of his Bible-thumping, gambling mother. He has his prize motorcycle and an ill-tempered dog named Shorty for company. What more could a man need? But one day he pulls a bright purple fish out of the nearby pond, and his simple life begins to disintegrate.

It’s clear that someone is poisoning the surrounding environment, and H. T. McMullen aims to find out who. But it’s more than just a simple matter of cornering the perpetrators. They know H. T. is sniffing around and decide to send a brash message in the form of two bullets– one in H.T.’s leg, and one in his dog, who barely survives. H. T. sends a plea for help to a Raleigh-based environmental coalition, but he doesn’t really expect an answer. He is delightfully surprised when stunning environmental lawyer Jessica Beane shows up on his doorstep, ready to personally take on his complaint. McMullen hasn’t really thought about romance since his divorce, but something about Jessica and her long red hair makes him a bit distracted. Unfortunately, there isn’t much time for a budding affair, since someone is clearly out to silence him. Soon H. T. and Jessica are on the run, and up to their necks in both poisonous water and deadly killers.

Ashley Memory’s debut novel, Naked and Hungry is simultaneously a romance, an environmental thriller, and the story of a man’s attempt to reinvent himself in our shifting times.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Memory, Ashley, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship, Suspense/Thriller