Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.


Mystery / Thriller

  • HUSH GIRL : It's Only a Dream

    by Gloria Zachgo

    Rating: 7.75

    Plot: This psychological thriller delivers on its promise. Each turn of the story provides food for thought and doles out more intrigue, leaving the reader almost desperate to know what happens next.

    Prose: While solid and engaging, the prose suffers a bit from repetition. However, the style is accessible and intelligent without being cloying or condescending.

    Originality: While the story will feel somewhat familiar to readers, it manages to also feel fresh. The directions in which the plot skitters are what gives it the vague feeling of something new and different.

    Character Development: Watching the way each character grows and changes is an absolute joy. It is very easy to get lost in their stories and understand their motivations.

  • Plot: Guha’s thriller is lean and focused, loaded with plenty of action and surprises throughout. Well constructed chapters often end with cliffhangers that will keep readers turning pages, and the ending will leave readers hungry for the next installment in the series.

    Prose: Guha’s prose is impressively constructed, and often flows at a breakneck pace to create tension. The author skillfully uses sentences to build cinematic scenes loaded with plenty of intrigue.

    Originality: The author presents a worthy addition to a well-established genre, freshening it up with a relevant and timely plot played out by a cast of flawed but sympathetic characters.

    Character Development: Guha’s characters are well developed and believable. She gives them rich and convincing psychologies and backgrounds that inform their motives. Readers will root for Petra and Kasem.

  • Butchertown

    by Thomas Burchfield

    Rating: 7.50

    Plot: The plot of this non-stop thriller races along, adhering fiercely to Paul Bacon's story. Unexpectedly, religion and the search for true happiness play major yet somber roles in the novel.

    Prose: Quick, sharp, and well paced, Burchfield’s storytelling and realistic dialogue maintain readers’ interest in Bacon’s exploits — even when the scenes Bacon encounters seem beyond belief.

    Originality: Throughout the book, Burchfield places Bacon in a series of circumstances that, while sometimes straining credulity, are packed with intensity and drama.

    Character Development: By the end of this book, Bacon is a fully drawn character, and the author reveals enough about the other characters for readers to develop mixed feelings about them. Only Molly Carver seems to lack definition, perhaps because of the mysterious role she plays early on. Additionally, some of the book's “bad guys” become caricatures of themselves, their barbaric appetite for revenge and murder making them seem too similar to each other.

    Blurb: A sexy, violent non-stop thrill ride deep into the seedy underbelly of post-World War I San Francisco.

  • The Quiet Coup: A Political Thriller

    by Rob Lubitz

    Rating: 7.50

    Plot: The Quiet Coup fits squarely in mystery/thriller genre, but has enough unpredictability to keep readers turning pages. The book is well plotted and moves along at a good clip.

    Prose: The prose here is solid, accessible and serves the material well.

    Originality: The book's premise and subsequent story are fascinating, fresh, and not often explored.

    Character Development: The characters are vividly rendered and well developed -- although they are not free of stock qualities.

  • The Mountain Goat

    by Jim Trainor

    Rating: 7.25

    Plot: Despite a choppy beginning, this story picks up pace once recently fired physicist Ryan Browning and unhappy customer service rep Amanda Seward hit the road in a beat-up camper van, searching for new beginnings. The twist near the end is much more surprising than the couple’s predictable happy ever after.

    Prose: Realistic dialogue and an impressive sense of place and rendering of the American West make up for some scenes that read as if they were inspired by travel brochures.

    Originality: This is a straightforward road-trip tale, with characters leaving troubles behind for a shot at something bigger and better. The unexpected religious overtones are subtle and surprisingly effective.

    Character Development: Trainor deftly inhabits multiple key characters with flair and grace. Ryan and Amanda may be almost too perfect for each other, which is what makes them so appealing to readers. Their gentle, inquisitive spirits propel this story, and when one of them disappears from the narrative for a while, readers will feel as though they’ve lost a friend.

    Blurb: A modern take on the classic road-trip story that resonates with an uneasy yet intoxicating sense of adventure.  


  • A Ring of Truth

    by Michelle Cox

    Rating: 7.25

    Plot: The mystery surrounding the ring is familiar but fresh enough to keep readers engaged. The relationship between Henrietta and Clive and his family is also well drawn and engaging.

    Prose: The prose is solid and intensely readable if not memorable. The plot and the characters do more to keep the story interesting.

    Originality: While the story feels vaguely familiar at times, the central mystery has enough twists to be surprising.

    Character Development: Henrietta and Clive are well developed, and readers will get a good sense of their history. Martha and Antonia are at first more types than characters. And while they grow out of these simple boundaries, the interactions they initially share with Henrietta and Clive feel more tedious than intriguing.

  • The Third Step

    by William Lobb

    Rating: 7.25

    Plot: Frankie's escapades read like a string of events that aren't connected in any meaningful way, and this makes the plot feel disjointed. Excessive and unnecessary description also derails the narrative pace.

    Prose: The prose in this book is a mixed bag. While some of the writing is very solid, the author's attempts to elevate the prose often produce overly wordy and excessively detailed writing that doesn't flow well.

    Originality: Frankie's twisted, self-hating personality is original, as are the self-destructive events of his life. The author does a fine job creating Frankie's world, both past and present.

    Character Development: Frankie is the most fully developed character in the book, and readers will understand and recognize his self-destructive nature. The author gives Frankie moments of clarity that work to deepen his development.

  • Good Girl Bad Girl

    by Ann Girdharry

    Rating: 7.00

    Plot: This novel has an extremely intricate plot, which comes together well in the end. However, the second half of the book is far more compelling than the first—which may be a barrier in terms of initial reader engagement.

    Prose: While the prose is solidly constructed, clear, and effective—but also does little to distinguish itself or rise above the ordinary.

    Originality: Although the book doesn't cover new ground, the protagonist and many of the settings are original.

    Character Development: The characters here are well drawn and engaging, although readers may find some of them opaque—the author would be well served by giving readers a clearer sense of the characters thought processes and feelings.

  • The Shepherd's Calculus

    by C.S. Farrelly

    Rating: 7.00

    Plot: Farrelly effectively avoids the customary pitfalls of the bombshell subject. The novel has well-defined parameters of a carefully delineated plot. The conclusion is especially well-paced.

    Prose: This is a very clean, efficient, and straightforward narrative. The writing matches the occupation of the main character. Farrelly has a good ear for sharp dialogue.

    Originality: The novel takes a hot button issue and makes it feel fresh. It successfully links religion, politics, and journalism with guilt and moral issues.

    Character Development: Farrelly's main character, Peter Merrick, is well-chosen for the task at hand. His back story helps to define his character with proper baggage and personal conflicts. The clergy are presented effectively. Secondary characters serve the story well.

  • Legacy Girls, Book #2 in The Jaycee Wilder Series

    by Jennifer Vaughn

    Rating: 7.00

    Plot: Book two in Vaughn’s Jaycee Wilder series makes skilled use of dramatic irony and gives away just enough information to keep readers flipping pages toward the novel's satisfying conclusion.

    Prose: Vaughn’s prose is digestible, energetic, and descriptive. Sharp and lean sentences build on each other and move along at a pace suitable for the book's taboo subject matter, rarely skipping a beat, and managing to never distract or pull the reader out of action.

    Originality: Vaugnhn’s novel is not groundbreaking, and hinges heavily on some common tropes. Despite this, the author’s treatment is fresh enough to earn the interest of readers looking for an enjoyable and quick-paced read.

    Character Development: Though most of the characters in Vaughn’s thriller are recognizable and familiar at their core, they are well developed and believable. The author manages to briefly, but effectively, sketch the minor characters and create lasting impressions that serve the story.

  • Plot: Despite a great premise and protagonist, the novel moves along slowly. And while the author does a superb job detailing the era in which the action is taking place, there isn't enough action or insight into Patricia/Patrick to sustain reader interest.

    Prose: The author is clearly a talented writer. Her prose is strong and suitable to the material.

    Originality: This story is original with its premise of a woman masquerading as a male ship's captain while establishing trade partners in Havana. Patricia/Patrick is torn between her role as a man, her desires as a woman, and her resulting loneliness straddling life in both genders. It's a promising and unique premise.

    Character Development: The author makes superb use of first person narrative to detail the novel's current events and place it in the proper time period for the reader. The main character, Patricia, is somewhat standoffish due to her masquerade and unwillingness to reveal her secret. As a result, she's also hard for the reader to relate to, connect with, and get to know.

    Blurb: An insightful look at life at sea during the colonial era, this novel offers a combination of adventure, discovery, and intrigue.

  • The Feel of Echoes

    by Mari Labbee

    Rating: 6.00

    Plot: This is an effective and unsettling mystery that moves along at a quick pace. However, the sense of unease Labbee creates within the house is lost among overly long backstories, and when the narrative focuses extensively on Matt. Additionally, the introduction of Indigo/Isabel and Rosabel as focal characters leads to a rushed and unsatisfying ending.

    Prose: Labbee’s prose often flows incredibly well, and her descriptive language is particularly strong, making The Feel of Echoes an enjoyable read. However, there is a tendency towards over explanation and redundancy. Additionally, the introduction of Rosabel’s diary entries and Indigo/Isabel’s narration is a misstep that muddles the plot.

    Originality: The premise of a someone buying a historic home and then facing supernatural repercussions is not a new one, but the opening chapter is exciting enough to bring life to the familiar storyline. Unfortunately, the narrative as a whole relies too heavily on genre tropes.

    Character Development: One of the strongest elements of the novel is the characterization. While Labbee works to introduce and build all of her characters, Bri and Matt are the best developed, both learning and growing throughout the narrative. However, the effort at characterization also causes the narrative to meander through extensive flashbacks and extraneous information.


  • The Devil's Kettle

    by Jeff Ollman

    Rating: 5.75

    Plot: The story is engaging and decently structured, and for the most part everything is tied up satisfactorily at the end. However, the narrative could use some tightening to eliminate unnecessary plot points that slow down the development of the story.

    Prose: The prose is straightforward and workmanlike. However, errors in punctuation are often confusing and work to take readers out of the story.

    Originality: Although missing persons cases are a staple of the genre, the author manages to tell a story is original and features unique and believable characters.

    Character Development: For the most part, the characters—both the major and minor players—are well developed and will seem real to readers. However, Gerald Hodges's character arc could be clearer and better explained.

  • Officer Involved

    by Bill Zahren

    Rating: 5.75

    Plot: This novel has a promising plot and is decently structured. But readers may feel that obstacles are overcome to easily en route to the book's conclusion.

    Prose: There are flashes of lively and engaging prose, though much of the writing is either flat and declarative or overheated and implausible. Additionally, the dialogue is often stilted.

    Originality: The setup will be familiar to fans of the genre, while some of the characters are definite types. The book will remind readers of Breaking Bad.

    Character Development: Tom and Hillary are likeable and multifaceted characters—and readers will be engaged by their story. However, many of the secondary characters are stock types.

  • Avenging Angel: A Kingman & Reed Novel

    by Bill Zahren

    Rating: 5.25

    Plot: The plot is solid, but slow-paced and predictable.The serial killer here is a foe most readers will have encountered before, and this one doesn't offer any new twists in behavior or motivation.

    Prose: The writing is straightforward and clear, but frequent info dumps slow the story. Repetitive and unnecessary details also distract and make the story drag.

    Originality: The setting—Sioux City, Iowa—offers a glimpse of some new territory for thriller fans, as does the opposites attract, forbidden fruit romance between the protagonists. Unfortunately, the serial killer never rises above stereotype.

    Character Development: The protagonists are well-rounded, and secondary characters are reasonably well developed. Unfortunately the villain is a predictable caricature whose identity will be obvious to readers.

  • The Mystique Woven in Our Land

    by Deborah Kralich

    Rating: 5.25

    Plot: The book puts an interesting spin on the traditional marriage plot, layering it with a murder mystery that leads to the story’s unexpected conclusion.

    Prose: Kralich’s novel often reads like play with minimal stage direction. Though much of the dialogue is strong, many important details and key events are revealed unnaturally through confusing information-loaded exchanges. The book might have benefited from additional exposition.

    Originality: Kralich presents an original combination of genres, but this stacking sometimes leads to confusion about where readers should direct their focus.

    Character Development: While the author presents an impressively large cast of convincing characters, they are often difficult to keep straight. However, despite some confusion with the minor characters, there are standouts that readers are sure to appreciate, including Lantern Leshoward, Shears Plate, and Abigail Fichton.