2017 Book #52 – No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan

519Jdw7vpALTitle: No Turning Back
Author: Tracy Buchanan
Date finished: 6/12/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Anna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.
But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago—and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.
Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life? Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book tells the story of Anna Graves, a mother who is confronted with a mother’s worst fear, a threat to the life of her child. Acting on instinct, she defends the lives of herself and her child, but unfortunately takes another life in the process. While at first people are supportive of her actions in protection of her daughter, as people dig more and more into the story they start to question whether or not they could really take someone’s life. And as every little secret in Anna’s closet is exposed, her actions are questioned as to whether they were really the product of instinctual protection or revenge. Then Anna starts receiving emails from the Ophelia Killer, a serial killer who hasn’t surface in the area in 20 years. She wonders why she’s being targeted by this madman, and the police don’t take the emails seriously, thinking instead that Anna’s behind it all. And so her only hope is to solve the mystery with the help of Jamie, the brother of the boys she murdered, and not only clear her name but hopefully stop the threat on her life.
Overall I really liked this book. It got a little repetitive, with how ostracized Anna became and how much everyone hated her. It got almost to the point where it was just so frustrating to hear about how badly Anna was still being treated. Other than that though, the plot line was pretty good. The whole book the author is leading you in one direction and making you think you know who the real killer is, but its not anyone you would have ever guessed. I thought I knew for who it was and I was wrong. This was a make you look over your shoulder kind of creepy read, which sounds bad but really was great. I was finishing it late last night and I had trouble going to sleep afterwards. I would definitely recommend this one, I think it will be a great summer read!

The bottom line: I really liked this book, it was creepy and thrilling for sure. I think this is a great summer read.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #49 – The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb

41RTFNre+VLTitle: The End of Temperance Dare
Author: Wendy Webb
Date finished: 6/4/17
Genre: Thriller, horror
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

When Eleanor Harper becomes the director of a renowned artists’ retreat, she knows nothing of Cliffside Manor’s dark past as a tuberculosis sanatorium, a “waiting room for death.” After years of covering murder and violence as a crime reporter, Eleanor hopes that being around artists and writers in this new job will be a peaceful retreat for her as much as for them.
But from her first fog-filled moments on the manor’s grounds, Eleanor is seized by a sense of impending doom and realizes there’s more to the institution than its reputation of being a haven for creativity. After the arrival of the new fellows―including the intriguing, handsome photographer Richard Banks―she begins to suspect that her predecessor chose the group with a dangerous purpose in mind. As the chilling mysteries of Cliffside Manor unravel and the eerie sins of the past are exposed, Eleanor must fight to save the fellows—and herself—from sinister forces.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Eleanor Harper, a journalist who has recently fallen on hard times. Overcome at many points of the day with an overwhelming fear (of what she’s not sure), her career as a crime reporter has come to a screeching halt when she’s fired. And then Eleanor (Norrie) sees an advertisement for a replacement director of Cliffside Manor, an artistic retreat. Norrie has thought of Cliffside many times over the years, having first been there to report on the death of Chester Dare and his daughter, Chamomile, after their car accident twenty years ago. She can hardly believe her luck when she is hired as the director, but when weird things start happening, Norrie starts to wonder if maybe she and the new guests of Cliffside are in danger.
Overall I really liked this book a lot! It was so creepy, the whole book I had goosebumps and I couldn’t wait to find out what the heck was going on. I had an inkling on some of the plot twists at the end but a couple of them I didn’t see coming at all, the plot was really great. The mystery took a while to figure out but every piece ended up making sense in the end. I thought this was a really well written thriller and I would recommend reading it!

The bottom line: This was a great book! I loved how creepy it was and the plot was fast paced and scary. I would definitely recommend it.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #43 – The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

51MUPopm41LTitle: The Perfect Stranger
Author: Megan Miranda
Date finished: 5/10/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Pages in book: 353
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.
Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.
Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Leah Stevens, a journalist who has recently relocated from Boston to rural western Pennsylvania to escape the mess she’s made of her life. Starting over with a teaching position, she hopes to leave her failure behind her. Leah moves in with a friend that she’s recently reconnected with, Emmy. She and Emmy lived together for a few months right after Leah graduated from college, when she became a new person and began to form the structure of her adult life. After not seeing Emmy for eight years, she suddenly reappears just when Leah seemingly needs her most. But then a dead body is found by the lake and this small rural town in western Pennsylvania starts to feel a little less safe. And as the bodies, and the secrets, start piling up, with Emmy missing and Leah left to connect the dots, the truth unravels and Leah learns that the danger really is everywhere.
AHH Overall, my gosh, I loved this book. I was addicted, on the edge of my seat, didn’t want to put it down. I found myself continually looking around trying to “find the danger” when I wasn’t reading. Leah as a character was great. She’s on the edge of losing it and she gets so deep into this that the reader even starts to question if Emmy is real or not. I loved the mind-games that this book plays with the reader, the danger really is everywhere and Leah is in much more trouble than she could have ever imagined. The way that the author presents the different relationships within this book I found to be really interesting too. Leah realizes later on in the book and its true but relationships are all about perspective. Your specific perspective of that person and what they present to your relationship could only be one facet of them as a person and of their lives, which I found to be a thought-provoking aspect to this story. This was a great and interesting book with great plot twists and a constant threat of danger. This is going to be a must read for this summer, I would definitely recommend!

The bottom line: I loved this book, I was on the edge of my seat and I just loved the twists and turns in the plot. This one is a must read for the summer, I would definitely recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #39 – Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser

511YXgsLkWLTitle: Almost Missed You
Author: Jessica Strawser
Date finished: 4/26/17
Genre: Fiction, thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Pages in book: 319
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Violet and Finn were “meant to be,” said everyone, always. They ended up together by the hands of fate aligning things just so. Three years into their marriage, they have a wonderful little boy, and as the three of them embark on their first vacation as a family, Violet can’t help thinking that she can’t believe her luck. Life is good.
So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach—just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare, and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all.
Caitlin and Finn have been best friends since way back when, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice.
Told through alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin, Jessica Strawser’s Almost Missed You is a powerful story of a mother’s love, a husband’s betrayal, connections that maybe should have been missed, secrets that perhaps shouldn’t have been kept, and spaces between what’s meant to be and what might have been.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is about Violet, her husband Finn, and their 3 year old son Bear. Violet and Finn had a short courtship compared to most, but Violet has never doubted that fate brought them together. Their story seems like a real life fairy tale and she is beyond happy with their family and their life together. And so she is blindsided when Finn disappears from their Florida vacation without a word, taking Bear with him. And after the FBI gets involved with trying to find Bear, Violet learns about the secrets that Finn has kept from her about his past and begins to wonder how well she really knew her husband. Meanwhile, Finn and Violet’s best friends Caitlin and George each have secrets of their own in their marriage and the most recent one added to the list is that Caitlin is allowing Finn and Bear to hide out in their family cabin at the lake. When Caitlin decides enough is enough though and that Bear must be returned to his mother, the secrets start to unravel with explosive consequences. And once everything is out in the open, we’ll see who’s left standing at the end.
Overall I liked this book a lot. To be honest the main topic (a mother having her son ripped away from her without a word or a clue) made me a bit sick to my stomach. I can’t even imagine the hopelessness and the pain that must have been unbearable for Violet’s character. The author did a great job of capturing this I thought but that piece of it is difficult for the reader to live through Violet’s eyes but necessary to the story. This was an incredibly intense novel that had my heart pounding for most of the novel. The author did an amazing job of building tension and creating drama, revealing secrets at just the right time and adding in perfect plot twists. At the end I still felt so bad for everyone involved but man it was a wild ride. I would definitely recommend this book, this one is going to be a must read for the summer!

The bottom line: Wow this was definitely an intense book. I liked it a lot but at the same time I hated how sad it was. This one is definitely a must-read though!!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #8 – Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia

514djmp1kl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Title: Everything You Want Me to Be
Author: Mindy Mejia
Date finished: 1/29/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense/thriller
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Full of twists and turns, Everything You Want Me to Be reconstructs a year in the life of a dangerously mesmerizing young woman, during which a small town’s darkest secrets come to the forefront…and she inches closer and closer to her death.
High school senior Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good citizen. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death on the opening night of her high school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of her small town community. Local sheriff Del Goodman, a family friend of the Hoffmans, vows to find her killer, but trying to solve her murder yields more questions than answers. It seems that Hattie’s acting talents ran far beyond the stage. Told from three points of view—Del, Hattie, and the new English teacher whose marriage is crumbling—Everything You Want Me to Be weaves the story of Hattie’s last school year and the events that drew her ever closer to her death.
Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery—or destruction?

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is about the murder of Hattie Hoffman, a high school senior less than two months from graduation who is found murdered in an abandoned barn near a lake in her very small town. The whole town is rocked by this grisly murder, and fearing that there is now a psychotic murder somewhere in their midst the town is demanding answers. Del is the sheriff, and although the mayor is putting a lot of pressure on him to find out what happened Del’s real motivation is his best friend Bud, Hattie’s father. Del is desperate to find out what happened to his friend’s sweet daughter, who he thought he knew well. But it turns out everyone can hide secrets if they’re dark enough, and Hattie’s secret is a doozy. The reader knows that it somehow involves Peter Lund, a teacher from Hattie’s school, before the book even gets going since he has such an important role in the book. And Peter is in fact somehow involved, but the ending, and the murderer, is something that the reader won’t see coming.
Overall this book rocked. I loved the way that the story was presented, with the three separate points of view. The story line itself was riveting and I loved the way the author wrote this book, there were so many passages that stood out to me and really just made me stop and think about how wonderfully this book was written. Hattie as a character jumps off the page and really just comes so alive for the reader. And the murderer really is just not someone that I would have expected at all, I loved the way the ending was done because it keeps the reader guessing until the last minute. The whole thing was just overwhelmingly sad but I loved that the author didn’t shy away from this either. The book includes not only the suspense of what happened and trying to resolve the mystery but also deals with the raw grief that comes from losing a child and of the community that is left to deal with the aftermath of the murder. I loved this book and I would highly recommend it!

Favorite quotes: 
“I took a step closer, compelled beyond reason toward this girl who kept shedding masks like a matryoshka doll, each one more audacious that the last, a psychological striptease that rached me with the need to tear her apart until I found out who or what was inside.” (Peter)

“It wouldn’t matter if I never saw her again, never hugged her. I would cut off my hands and feet just to know her heart was beating.” (Mona, Hattie’s Mom)

The bottom line: This book was awesome, I loved the plot and the way the story was presented with the three points of view. Though jumping back and forth between past and present can be hard to follow at times, I think it was absolutely the best way to present the story. This was a great thriller and I would highly recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #7 – The Girl Before by JP Delaney

51nt2d3zgwl-_sx327_bo1204203200_Title: The Girl Before
Author: JP Delaney
Date finished: 1/24/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense/thriller
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD
Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.
The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.
EMMA
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.
JANE
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Jane Cavendish and also of Emma Matthews. The book outlines the lives of both these very different women, Jane in the “Now” and Emma from “Then”. Both women at their different times are looking for a new place to live. Both have recently suffered a trauma and end up applying to live at the same apartment in London. This house comes at a very discounted rent price but in exchange they have to agree to the “Rules.” These rules include not being able to bring much with them, participating in a sort of experimental data gathering, and no pets, children or any kind of mess.  The house is very high-tech and can read your personal preferences from the data that’s been collected and stored, such as what temperature you prefer your shower temperature. In fact you can’t even get in the front door unless the house knows you or you have a code on your phone to get in. And as both women fall under the spell of the building’s architect, their lives parallel each other very closely before veering off in other directions. As both women find themselves being threatened though, they will each have to fight for their lives.
Overall I really liked this book. I didn’t want to put it down and I thought that the alternating points of view made the story line really build with tension. I loved how closely the two women’s stories coincided at certain points. THere were a lot of plot twists in this book, almost too many at some points. I thought this was a good thriller though, with some great options for villains. I loved the technology aspect to this story as well. The house is constantly evolving and growing smarter and learning. It almost seems as if the house brain-washes the individual living in it. It definitely added an additional piece of the story that keeps the reader interested. I have to admit the villain definitely wasn’t who I expected it to be, and I thought the author did a great job with the surprise ending. I liked this book a lot and I would definitely recommend.

The bottom line: This was a really good book, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time waiting to find out what had happened to Emma. And I didn’t see a lot of the twists coming, which always makes for a good thriller.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

Two Days Gone BLOG TOUR!!

Two Days Gone was released this past Tuesday (January 10th) and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book here. See below for more information about the book, an excerpt, a short author bio, and a GIVEAWAY! This was a very good read, I would definitely recommend checking it out! It was thrilling and interesting and I enjoyed it a lot. 

SUMMARY

The perfect family. The perfect house. The perfect life. All gone now.
Thomas Huston, a beloved professor and bestselling author, is something of a local hero in the small Pennsylvania college town where he lives and teaches. So when Huston’s wife and children are found brutally murdered in their home, the community reacts with shock and anger. Huston has also mysteriously disappeared, and suddenly, the town celebrity is suspect number one.
Sergeant Ryan DeMarco has secrets of his own, but he can’t believe that a man he admired, a man he had considered a friend, could be capable of such a crime. Hoping to glean clues about Huston’s mind-set, DeMarco delves into the professor’s notes on his novel-in-progress. Soon, DeMarco doesn’t know who to trust—and the more he uncovers about Huston’s secret life, the more treacherous his search becomes.

BUY THE BOOK HERE

Amazon:  http://ow.ly/dr1j306TTQ3
Barnes & Noble  :http://ow.ly/eveI306TU15
IndieBound:  http://ow.ly/hupQ306TU93

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Randall Silvis is the internationally acclaimed author of more than a dozen novels, one story collection, and one book of narrative nonfiction. His essays, articles, poems, and short stories have appeared in various online and print magazines. His work has been translated into ten languages. He lives in Pennsylvania.

GIVEAWAY

The publisher is holding a giveaway for two copies of the book, enter to win!!

Rafflecopter Giveaway Link for 2 Copies of Two Days Gone.   Runs January 10-31 (US & Canada only)

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EXCERPT

51fpei4tytl-_sx331_bo1204203200_First Chapter Excerpt

The waters of Lake Wilhelm are dark and chilled. In some places, the lake is deep enough to swallow a house. In others, a body could lie just beneath the surface, tangled in the morass of weeds and water plants, and remain unseen, just another shadowy form, a captive feast for the catfish and crappie and the monster bass that will nibble away at it until the bones fall asunder and bury themselves in the silty floor.

In late October, the Arctic Express begins to whisper south- eastward across the Canadian plains, driving the surface of Lake Erie into white-tipped breakers that pound the first cold breaths of winter into northwestern Pennsylvania. From now until April, sunny days are few and the spume-strewn beaches of Presque Isle empty but for misanthropic stragglers, summer shops boarded shut, golf courses as still as cemeteries, marinas stripped to their bone work of bare,splintered boards. For the next six months, the air will be gray and pricked with rain or blasted with wind-driven snow. A season of surliness prevails.

Sergeant Ryan DeMarco of the Pennsylvania State Police, Troop D, Mercer County headquarters, has seen this season come and go too many times. He has seen the surliness descend into despair, the despair to acts of desperation, or, worse yet, to deliberately malicious acts, to behavior that shows no regard for the fragility of flesh, a contempt for all consequences. 

He knows that on the dozen or so campuses between Erie and Pittsburgh, college students still young enough to envision a happy future will bundle up against the biting chill, but even their youthful souls will suffer the effects of this season of gray. By November, they will have grown annoyed with their roommates, exasperated with professors, and will miss home for the first time since September. Home is warm and bright and where the holidays are waiting. But here in Pennsylvania’s farthest northern reach, Lake Wilhelm stretches like a bony finger down a glacier-scoured valley, its waters dark with pine resin, its shores thick on all sides with two thousand acres of trees and brush and hanging vines, dense with damp shadows and nocturnal things, with bear and wildcat and coyote, with hawks that scream in the night.

In these woods too, or near them, a murderer now hides, a man gone mad in the blink of an eye.

The college students are anxious to go home now, home to Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hanukah, to warmth and love and light.Home to where men so respected and adored do not suddenly butcher their families and escape into the woods.

The knowledge that there is a murderer in one’s midst will stagger any community, large or small. But when that murderer is one of your own, when you have trusted the education of your sons and daughters to him, when you have seen his smiling face in every bookstore in town, watched him chatting with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, felt both pride and envy in his sudden acclaim, now your chest is always heavy and you cannot seem to catch your breath. Maybe you claimed, last spring, that you played high school football with Tom Huston. Maybe you dated him half a lifetime ago, tasted his kiss, felt the heave and tremor of your bodies as you lay in the lush green of the end zone one steamy August night when love was raw and new. Last spring, you were quick to claim an old intimacy with him,so eager to catch some of his sudden, shimmering light. Now you want only to huddle indoors. You sit and stare at the window, confused by your own pale reflection.

Now Claire O’Patchen Huston, one of the prettiest women in town, quietly elegant in a way no local woman could ever hope to be, lies on a table in a room at the Pennsylvania State Police forensics lab in Erie. There is the wide gape of a slash across her throat, an obscene slit that runs from the edge of her jawline to the opposite clavicle.

Thomas Jr., twelve years old, he with the quickest smile and the fastest feet in sixth grade, the boy who made all the high school coaches wet their lips in anticipation, shares the chilly room with his mother. The knife that took him in his sleep laid its path low across his throat, a quick, silencing sweep with an upward turn.

As for his sister, Alyssa, there are a few fourth grade girls who, a week ago, would have described her as a snob, but her best friends knew her as shy, uncertain yet of how to wear and carry and contain her burgeoning beauty. She appears to have sat up at the last instant, for the blood that spurted from her throat sprayed not only across the pillow, but also well below it, spilled down over her chest before she fell back onto her side. Did she understand the message of that gurgling gush of breath in her final moments of consciousness? Did she, as blood soaked into the faded pink flannel of her pajama shirt, lift her gaze to her father’s eyes as he leaned away from her bed?

And little David Ryan Huston, asleep on his back in his crib— what dreams danced through his toddler’s brain in its last quivers of sentience? Did his father first pause to listen to the susurrus breath? Did he calm himself with its sibilance? The blade on its initial thrust missed the toddler’s heart and slid along the still-soft sternum. The second thrust found the pulsing muscle and nearly sliced it in half.

The perfect family. The perfect house. The perfect life. All gone now. Snap your fingers five times, that’s how long it took. Five soft taps on the door. Five steel-edged scrapes across the tender flesh of night.