The continuing saga…

Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster

I said earlier that I’ll read anything, and I am a sucker for cheap e-books, but I still have standards. I will not “buy” a free book on Kindle unless it’s in-the-public-domain free. Obviously, you can get great public-domain books for free. That’s a no-brainer. It’s also, generally, a no-brainer that all other free e-books are crap. You should always be leery of stuff that “sells” itself for free. I don’t pretend that I am selling you this blog, do I? If I did, you would be wise not to read it. But all rules have exceptions, and this is one of them. I got Hostile Witness for free on Kindle, for reasons I can’t imagine, let alone remember, and it was actually pretty good. I was prepared to just delete it off my device without finishing it if it were not good, being how it was free and all, but no, I read the whole thing. No regrets. Not the greatest legal thriller ever, but as the genre goes, not bad at all. And as the “selling for free” genre goes, not crap by a long shot. That’s high praise, in case you were wondering.

Hostile Witness is about a lawyer who used to be a high-profile criminal defense lawyer (hiss!) until she got a client off and the client killed again and she felt all responsible, blah blah, so she retired to a quiet beach community to do petty criminal defense lawyering (not worth a hiss)–but then she gets lured back into the high-profile criminal defense law world when an old friend asks her to defend her daughter against charges that she has murdered her step-grandfather. I bet cash money you did not understand that last sentence. It doesn’t matter. I didn’t love the characters, but I was interested. It was a good suspense novel. And it was FREE. Freefreefreefreefree!

Obsession by Karen Robards

I didn’t buy this book for free; I e-borrowed it for free, and I’m glad because it wasn’t that great. A woman wakes up and remembers that she was a victim of a horrible crime the previous night and remembers several other things about herself but can’t shake this nagging feeling that some things just aren’t quite right and that the people she’s supposed to be able to trust, she really can’t trust. Consequently she does a lot of stuff that doesn’t make a lick of sense. Because she can’t trust anyone and she’s running from everyone! It’s unsustainable! She has to trust someone sometime, but who? That is, whom? Whom can she trust? How about this really hot guy she’s pretty sure isn’t who he says he is? Okay! Well, I made that sound dumber than it really is. The truth is that the book had an intriguing premise but I found the characters annoying and the point…elusive. There were far too many pages of her fretting about not knowing what was what and not being able to trust anyone and not enough getting to the effing point. I finished it because I had to know the truth, no matter how annoying it was. But I wasn’t happy with myself afterward. In other words, gentle readers, I had regrets. And that does not bode well for a book’s number of stars on Goodreads. (Two.)

Flawless by Lara Chapman

This is a YA novel based on a Cyrano scenario (you like that? I can be wordsmithy)–smart girl with big nose is in love with the hot new guy at school who also happens to be smart, but her best friend is also in love with him, and since the best friend is kind of dumb (except for being smart enough to have a smart person for a best friend), she begs the smart girl to write Facebook messages and texts with the hot smart guy so he will be impressed and want to date her. How’s that for a 21st century teenage dilemma? Implausible? Yes. Well, the execution was clever, and I liked the girl with the big nose, even though she was kind of annoying at times. It was cute, and I was entertained.

The Perfect Husband by Lisa Gardner

I’ve read another book by Lisa Gardner, but I can’t remember which one. I didn’t care for it. I thought the characters were dull. But I kept wanting to give her books another shot because she writes the kind of books I devour (criminal thrillers about women in danger) and she’s written a lot of them. So I e-borrowed The Perfect Husband, and I’ll say this much: the characters were not dull. The characters were reasonably intriguing. The plot was well-executed. It’s about an abused wife who seeks the help of a mercenary to train her how to kill her ex-husband, who has escaped from prison or something. But as a romantic suspense novel, well…let’s just say it contains some of the unsexiest smut I have ever read. It contains sentences like this: “He swore. Then he kissed her hard. It was an eating kiss. His tongue plunged in, hot and thick and filling her.” Okay. Can I go throw up now? In addition to teaching survival and killing skills, the gentleman in question is also supposed to be teaching this broken woman how to love. BUT HASN’T SHE SUFFERED ENOUGH? I know I have.

Abandoned by Cody McFadyen

Generally, I try to stay away from books written by someone named Cody. At least I’ve always assumed that was a rule of mine. But I was hankering for some psycho killer literature, and this was just there for the borrowing–what was I supposed to do? Smoky Barrett is a hot-shot FBI agent and the victim of a psycho who killed her family and left her maimed and almost dead (but not dead, for she lived to remain a hot-shot FBI agent and star in this novel). Women who disappeared ages ago and were declared dead suddenly show up actually dead but clearly only dead for a short time, so they must have been held captive for years, but by whom? And to what purpose? Why is the killer taunting Smoky Barrett? Will Smoky figure out who this sicko is before he kills again? At least before he kills too many more people? Because for now he seems pretty unstoppable? This book is high-quality for its genre, and I liked Smoky Barrett and her FBI compatriots, but it was also one of the most depressing serial killer books I’ve ever read. Let that sink in. I think it says a lot. So this Cody person can sure write, but do I want to read any other Smoky Barrett books? (There are at least four, for this is #4.) No. Not really, no. I don’t think I could handle it emotionally. A personal shortcoming, I’m sure, not to be held against Cody.

Secret Lives by Diane Chamberlain

This is the sort of book that would have been made into a TV movie event back in the eighties. Not coincidentally, it was written in 1991. So okay, it was behind its time. But it’s still good in the way that trashy eighties books are good. A movie star in personal crisis goes back to her childhood home to do research on her mother, an eccentric children’s book author who died young. There she meets a man with a tragic past, who is broken to the point of being beyond fixing, and yet she is inexplicably attracted to him, despite the fact that she is in no shape to be starting a new relationship. Also, there are secrets in her family. Also, the hot tragic man has secrets. A secret, anyway. Oh boy but it’s a lulu, though. A LULU. I had everything figured out within the first few chapters, but it was still entertaining to watch it unfold. No regrets, three stars.

To be continued…