Tag Archives: St. Martin’s Press

Review: The Stowaway

The Stowaway

The Stowaway
By James S. Murray & Darren Wearmouth
St. Martin’s Press, 9781250263650, September 2021, 320pp.

The Short of It:

Gruesome, but oddly entertaining.

The Rest of It:

Two years ago, Maria Fontana, the head of the Psychology Department at Columbia University, sat on a jury for one of the most depraved cases ever to pass through the hallowed halls of City Hall. ~ Indiebound

The set-up is very good. Maria’s role on that jury comes back to haunt her and her family as they are vacationing on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. Maria and her fiancé are trying to put the events of the past behind them while getting a little R&R with Maria’s young children in tow. But things suddenly take a dangerous turn on the ship when people turn up dead. People, mostly, young children. How can this be? Could the man on trial, Wyatt Butler have a copycat?

Maria spent a lot of time reviewing the evidence of that case. All the gruesome photos of Butler’s young victims. Plus, her background in Psychology gives her enough info to know how these serial killers work, but could there really be a copycat on board? Why? What is he after?

This book is a classic example of being trapped with no place to run. It’s a ship but there are only so many places to hide and Maria’s knowledge of the case and what this killer is capable of keeps the story flowing at a breakneck pace. I really enjoyed this one. I read it in one sitting and could not put it down for long.

But…

It’s gruesome. The crime scenes are very graphic. It seemed somewhat tolerable only because the killings are not in real time. As readers, we only hear of the aftermath but it’s children, which is a bit hard to swallow. Many of you warned me about how graphic it was but it was done well-enough that it didn’t keep me from frantically turning those pages.

If you need something a little different, something that is hard to put down and you don’t mind the graphic nature of these killings, then I highly recommend it.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Shoulder Season

Shoulder Season

Shoulder Season
By Christina Clancy
St. Martin’s Press, 9781250239631, July 6, 2021, 336pp.

The Short of It:

The Playboy empire makes for an interesting story, no matter how you feel about the empire itself.

The Rest of It:

I never knew that Lake Geneva, Wisconsin was home to a Playboy resort. It seems like a very odd location but I looked it up and it was a very popular resort and attracted girls from all walks of life. In this story, Sherri is a small-town girl who spends most of her time playing the organ for her church. She’s a very pretty girl though and when her friend Roberta invites her to interview for a position as a Playboy bunny, she thinks the whole thing is a bit ridiculous. Her? A Bunny? But the Bunny mother sees something in her and offers her a job.

At first, Sherri is completely overwhelmed. Getting to live on the property with all these glamourous, beautiful women makes her feel like an outcast even though many continue to tell her that she has that sweet, pretty quality that the Playboy organization loves. But what she didn’t realize was just how much work was involved. Tight costumes, weight checks, standing in stilettos for hours on end, putting up with drunk club members and yes, dealing with all the numerous propositions that many of the girls accept as a side gig.

As Sherri begins to acclimate to the lifestyle, she finds herself struggling to find happiness. Drugs and drink don’t help and the abundance of male attention makes it hard to find true love but there are some good people looking out for her which gives her hope.

I found this book to be a quick read and I was pleasantly pulled along for most of the story but Sherri makes some very bad decisions and I kind of lost interest in her. Then, the last quarter of the book took a huge leap and turn. My copy was a review copy and it’s quite possible that something was left out because it seemed to lack a transition piece into the next part of the story. It was abrupt and jarring and not believable at all. I literally put it down and said, “Oh, come on.”

I really loved and enjoyed Clancy’s last book, The Second Home. I highly recommend it. However, Shoulder Season missed the mark for me. It lacked heart. I wanted to know Sherri more, which made her a likable character even though she did things to frustrate the heck out of me but the story was not believable and I feel like there was so much more to know.

This was a review copy but also on my 10 Books of Summer list so I am making progress with that list!

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.