ISBN-13: 9781594746857
Publisher: Quirk Publishing
Publication Date: 15 July 2014
Format: Paperback, 320 pgs
Source: Purchased

"This mystery, along with my sister's, will remain unsolved forever. It is the right place, the police station in Rotary, Ohio, it's the right place but now it's the wrong time, we're too late, we didn't get here in time to stop this girl from being attacked and we didn't get here in time to stop my sister from slipping down through the earth and away. My fault. All my fault." Pg 66.

Author Ben H. Winters really painted a bleak picture in his final installment of The Last Policeman trilogy. If I thought the last two installments are gloomy, then I couldn't think of what to say about this last book. Despair, desperation, doom... All the letter D words are enough to send you fidgeting as you race this book alongside with protagonist Detective Henry Palace, hoping he would be able to find his younger sister, Nico, and hoping harder that they would somehow get the asteroid crisis avertable. 

But that's not all. Remorse and melancholy run deep in this book too, as Detective Palace thinks about the past of him and Nico, their parents, his colleagues, and yes even Naomi, a woman he loved even if the time they were together is short. He misses all of them. If only time could turn back and there's no calamity. 

There's definitely a lot about humanity issues here. The good guys, the bad guys, and those in between... no matter which role they fit in it's all about choices, and survival. And hope is a powerful motivation and there's always a fine line between right and wrong. 

Detective Palace is a fine hero in my opinion. Despite everything he still demands answers in the end; he may be stubborn in some ways but he's doing what he feels is right. This last installment is absolutely the best among the trilogy. So emotionally packed and so much intensity in all sense. A very extraordinary mystery series I would say, and the stories will remain in my mind for a long while. 

Related links:
Countdown City (Book 2)


ISBN-13: 9780062267528
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 3 February 2015
Format: Paperback, 320 pgs
Source: Publisher

A modern re-imagining of Patricia Highsmith's classic Strangers on a Train (which I've yet to read but has piqued my interest after the brief mention on the back blurb), The Kind Worth Killing is a chilling, gripping story of an accidental encounter that leads to murder. 

Ted Severson's marriage is on the rocks. After married Miranda for three years he's discovered she's having an affair with their contractor. He's wondering if he should confront her when a chance encounter with a beautiful stranger at an airport lounge makes him a deal that she'd help him with murdering his wife, after they have exchanged conversations and telling each other bits about themselves. Ted is somewhat shocked by her suggestion, after all they've had a few too many drinks and he didn't mean she'd treat his words seriously. Sure, he'd wanted to kill his wife after learning of her affair but to murder someone in cold blood is entirely another matter. 

Ted is both intrigued and attracted by Lily, but how true is she and her suggestion? So they arranged to meet a week later after they've returned to Boston, to see if each other means business. They both showed up, and after exchanging some more information a deal is made. 

Split into three parts and told in Ted's, Lily's, Miranda's and Detective Kimball's perspectives, The Kind Worth Killing is one chilling psychological thriller that will make your heart race and ponder at the same time. Ted is a rich businessman who definitely knows how to make a deal, but the deal he's making with Lily makes me wonder if his love for his wife means nothing, or something so much more that he couldn't bear the betrayal. Lily, on the other hand is a damaged woman who's carried her secret past through the years since she was a teenager. Since then, she has believed that the abuser who has the power to intimidate or cause harm to the weaker peer should be punished severely. It all started when she killed a tom cat to prevent it from tormenting another feline. That satisfaction of killing and not being discovered has allowed her to commit another murder; a painter who stayed at their house for the summer and was also her mother's friend. He'd shown interest in little Lily and it wasn't paternal. 

While I enjoy reading thrillers that make me guess the identity of the killer, occasionally I am fascinated by thrillers such as The Kind Worth Killing; one that allows me to get into the minds of the deranged protagonists and makes me think of their purposes and the choices they have made. The plot is full of twists and turns, and before I could fathom what's happening another event happens (I was still pondering over the ending as of writing this.) Truth be told it was a compelling read and I could have given this book a 5-stars rating if not for the characterisations and their purposes, all of which have left me cold with dread. I wouldn't be surprised if this is to be made into a film in the near future. 


ISBN-13: 9781594746260
Publisher: Quirk Publishing
Publication Date: 16 July 2013
Format: Paperback, 320 pgs
Source: Personal Library

It's only seventy-seven days left before asteroid 2011GVwill plow into planet Earth and destroy everything. And Detective Henry "Hank" Palace is no longer a policeman. No, he didn't quit his job. The federal Department of Justice has simply dissolved the Adult Crimes Unit and the rest of the detective divisions but there are still cops around the neighbourhoods to ensure that there is no public disturbance. 

That said, Detective Palace isn't entirely a free man. He's still worried over his sister Nico, who has decided to leave home for some absurd reasons that have to do with the asteroid and the belief that a special mission she's into would help save the Earth. And on top of that, an old friend who's used to be their babysitter has approached him one day and claimed that her husband has gone missing. 

Martha believes Brett, an ex-state trooper, is an honourable man; one who is responsible and loyal. Thus, she's devastated that he left her without a word. She's sure Brett is somewhere, and that he has reasons for his leaving. Detective Palace begins to look for clues and information surrounding Brett, and he learnt that Brett's "retirement" from the troop began after an unsolved case. As the more Detective Palace digs, his finds lead him to an encampment place where the refugees staying there have their own set of rules, and Detective Palace has to use his wits to get some clues from a few of them.  

In this second installment, author Ben H. Winters has weaved a gloomy tale of the New Hampshire city; a sorrowful setting with people scrambling for survival, for suicidal, for the things they have not done but would do so under this circumstances. They are all in a state of countdown mode, and it's a matter of doing things one deems is worthy, regardless the morality. 

This story may be Detective Palace's case of searching for a missing person, but in whole I think it's very much of a story of family love and promises: Brett's promise to Martha that he would be with her until doomsday, and then the promises Detective Palace and Nico had made when they were children. Their stories had struck a chord in me differently. As with the first installment, the humanity issue remains the top element of this story but the emotional feelings it evoked have doubled in this second installment.  

I'm really very curious on how this trilogy is going to end. And what's good about this book is it could be read as a standalone, though it's always the best to start with the first book. As for the final installment, I really didn't know what to expect. I guess I'll stay hopeful like Detective Palace's sister, Nico, for now until I get to it. 

ISBN-13: 9781402298684
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication Date: 13 January 2015
Format: eBook, 323 pgs
Source: NetGalley

Set at the turn of the 20th century in Waterloo, Iowa, The Magician's Lie is a historical mystery revolving magic, a female illusionist who called herself the Amazing Arden, and a murder which everyone thinks she had committed. 

The story opens with Arden performing her famous illusion of the Halved Man - cutting a man into half and then having him comes out alive and whole. This illusion is one trick she'd performed endlessly without fail but on that fateful evening, something dreadful happened. Someone behind the stage found her husband trapped in one half of the box dead after the performance. Needless to say, Arden becomes the prime suspect with a motive to kill. After all, in the opening of the story she did think of killing her tormentor. Surely her husband is the one who tormented her? 

Officer Virgil Holt of Janesville Police Department witnessed her amazing performance together with his colleague, Officer Mose Huber on that same evening. Mose thinks a little magic may distract Holt of his medical problem, but little do they know that they are to face a tricky case involving magic. Is Arden truly meant to murder her husband? If she has claimed she's innocent, then who had killed him? 

As Officer Holt interrogated her, Arden insisted that she is no murderess, and she began to tell him about her past; starting since she was a girl, her relationship with her mother and a cousin called Ray, the reason they moved to Janesville, how she came to be an illusionist, and finally what happened on that fateful evening. As Officer Holt is caught up by her story, he couldn't help but to wonder if what she'd told him is the truth or simply just lies. After all her expertise is tricking people, isn't it? 

The Magician's Lie is both a fascinating and intriguing story in all sense. For starters, the magic setting is enough to captivate readers. After all, who doesn't love a good magic performance, even if it is only told in paper. Then, there is the characterisations, the plot and even how the story is executed (flashbacks and present, which I thought was very nicely done.) As much as I was intrigued with the murder case, I was also very much intrigued with Arden's past. Like Officer Holt, I followed her story with eagerness, not knowing what to expect, and whether or not should I believe the story she's telling. And speaking of Officer Holt, he is a righteous man given his position, but deep beneath he has full of doubts, including his personal life. In the end, I felt nothing but sympathy towards him. 

In conclusion, this story is simply fascinating. My whole reading journey is tinged with anticipation, be it Arden's story or the reveal of the real killer. I have to say the ending surprised me, but it was a good surprise. Recommended for readers who love historical and mystery. 


ISBN-13: 9780062340078
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 27 January 2015
Format: Paperback, 304 pgs
Source: Publisher

Deceit. Lies. Secrets. Before you open this book you get this idea that this story is about the lead character, Emily Coleman having something to hide, to the extent of changing her identity. She leaves her husband and little Charlie one day. No one knows why. 

As the story progresses, there are flash back of Emily's past from the day she was born, and how she felt towards her twin sister, Caroline. She is the eldest twin and during the delivery, their mother, Frances, went into shock after learning that she'd another baby in her womb. She'd made preparations for only one baby, not two. Despite her denial and reluctance, she accepted the other twin though her devotion is still towards Emily. As for their father, he is apathetic towards them as they grew over the years. The feelings he'd had for his wife has faded since her pregnancy. And since he couldn't leave Frances physically so he'd left her emotionally. 

Since babies, Emily and Caroline are two different girls despite they are twin sisters; one is calm and kind while the other is flighty and neurotic. As they grew older, their differences became more prominent; Emily will be the one whom everyone likes to hang out with, while Caroline will shock people with her speech and behaviours. They drifted apart after Emily's marriage but Emily still does keep in touch with her mother so she knows Caroline is doing fine in the fashion industry. Despite the years passed and the distance, Caroline still feels jealousy towards Emily. 

Emily, on the other end, appears to have a blissful family life. Thus it is puzzling why she chose to live a new life and this is where the intrigue comes in. This story is narrated in both first and third person; flashbacks and present alternatively throughout the story. The first person POV is Emily's new identity and tells us her journey living as Catherine Brown; how she knew her flatmate Angela to finding a job in London. While I didn't find the whole POV settings and scenarios confusing, what I have to say is I was both intrigued and disappointed with the characterisations and the plot. The characters are interesting, no doubt, in particularly to Emily and Caroline but they aren't likeable characters to me, though I felt sympathy towards Caroline's life growing up and then what Emily had encountered. Still, Emily's secrets is the drive of this story and this is what makes it a page-turner. 

And as much as the closure is neat and nice, I wasn't totally satisfied with the ending and/or Emily's secrets. I had had expected something more but it didn't go towards the direction I was anticipating. Nevertheless, this book still makes a good psychological thriller and author Tina Seskis' writing style is simply engrossing. 
Here is a list of book(s) I read in 2015. They are sorted in alphabetical order by the authors' last name.

Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik
Omens by Kelley Armstrong (Cainsville #1)
Visions by Kelley Armstrong (Cainsville #2)
Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong (Cainsville #3)
The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong
The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

The Visitors by Sally Beauman
A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton
The Ex by Alafair Burke

The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
Half a Lifelong Romance by Eileen Chang
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Help! I'm a Prisoner in the Library by Eth Clifford
The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford

Jamaica Inn by Daphne DuMaurier

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland

A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor 
I Am China by Xiaolu Guo
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Under a Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes
Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Suddenly One Summer by Julie James

Disclaimer by Renee Knight
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister
The Devil You Know by Elisabeth de Mariaffi
Name of the Devil by Andrew Mayne
The Man from Berlin by Luke McCallin
Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon
The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon
After You by Jojo Moyes

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis
The Daughter by Jane Shemilt
The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness by Kyung-Sook Shin
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

How to Live Forever by Colin Thompson
In Wilderness by Diane Thomas
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Second Life by S.J. Watson
The Wrong Man by Kate White
The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters
Countdown City by Ben H. Winters
World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters
Diamond Head by Cecily Wong

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

ISBN-13: 9781594746741
Publisher: Quirk Publishing
Publication Date: 13 May 2013
Format: Paperback, 336 pgs
Source: Personal Library

I have to confess I'm a huge fan of mystery & crime, but not so in science fiction. Movies, however, is another matter. This fiction piqued my interest due to all the rave reviews I have read from the blogging community, and since this has the mystery element, I thought if the sci-fi part didn't interest me, at least I have the mystery part to keep me interested. And after having read the book, I was glad to say I wasn't disappointed, both the mystery and the sci-fi part. Yes, that speaks a lot, isn't it? 

Now back to the book. First of all, I liked the title. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you'd know that I'm a big fan of crime thrillers. Flawed protagonists intrigue me the same way they solve their cases. What makes The Last Policeman stands out among the rest is the pre-apocalyptic setting, and the protagonist, Detective Henry "Hank" Palace of the Concord Police Department, is definitely not flawed. To me, he is more than a detective; he is a hero in my opinion. 

Despite learning that the asteroid is going to hit the Earth soon and that the whole world would be wiped out, Detective Palace didn't let this calamity get to him. Although he feels the dread, he carries on with his duties like usual, hoping to solve the cases as best as he can, such as the latest suicide case of an insurance man, Peter Zell. While the rest of the law enforcement team thinks Peter Zell ended his life due to depression with the news of the asteroid and everything, Detective Palace didn't think so. He goes in search of finding answers to Peter's death, more determined than ever. 

While The Last Policeman is very much of a detective story, I think at its core it reflects on how people react and behave under stressful and critical situations. While there are peeps who scrambled or resort to taking their own lives, there are also peeps who try to lead their lives like normalcy and/or live it to their fullest (yes, I'm thinking of Detective Henry Palace). While the topic is sad and seems like a hopeless situation, still it is interesting to look at the human behaviours from another angle. 

And then there is the conscientious Detective Henry Palace who feels obliged to examine the question of motive in a new light, and the end of the world changes everything from a law-enforcement perspective. I admired his determination, his strong sense of justice despite the calamity. He does what he can, and dig harder should he meets a dead end; he still has a purpose, from the start to the end.  Yes, you can say I've found another favourite literary character. I'm hoping the author would continue writing Detective Henry Palace even if this trilogy ends. I'm sure many readers will agree with me on this. 

* This book won the 2012 Edgar Award in the category Best Paperback Original.