Cheri Reviews Good Behavior by Blake Crouch


I’d seen the name Blake Crouch before but had never felt motivated to actually read his work. That was until a familiar face on the cover caught my attention: Lady Mary from Downton Abbey wearing a low-cut dress and a bit of a bad-ass attitude. I hit the “request” button on NetGalley and was soon on my way. But then I talked a couple of friends into reading it with me so I put it off until it was released and the audio book was available. I do love audio books.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon if you care to read it:

Fresh out of prison and fighting to keep afloat, Letty Dobesh returns to her old tricks burglarizing suites at a luxury hotel. While on the job, she overhears a man hiring a hit man to kill his wife. Letty may not be winning any morality awards, but even she has limits. Unable to go to the police, Letty sets out to derail the job, putting herself on a collision course with the killer that entangles the two of them in a dangerous, seductive relationship.

Good Behavior comprises three interlinked novellas (The Pain of Others, Sunset Key, and Grab), which together form a novel-length portrait of Blake Crouch’s all-time favorite character creation, Letty Dobesh. This edition is the complete Letty Dobesh collection.

There’s a lot to like about Good Behavior. Letty is a flawed, but likable, character. She’s a crystal meth addict who struggles daily to stay on the wagon. She has a son but lost custody of him the last time she went to prison. And she’s a very good thief. Letty is filled with self-doubt and low self-esteem but still manages to land on her feet – barely.

I wished I had been able to spend more time with her and hope more of her stories are published because I enjoyed all three of the novellas included in this book. Each one showed off a bit more of Letty’s quick thinking and determination and I may even have a little crush on her. At least I wanted to hug her a lot.

I did have some problems with the book, particularly the last story. Throughout the book, only non-white characters were identified by their race or color and these were the only ones who consistently spoke in some sort of culturally stereotypical way. The Black man in the final story used words like “homie” and other slang phrases that no other character used. Everyone else, regardless of education level or class, spoke in standard English. I found this unfortunate and wished someone along the editorial chain had pointed it out to the author. This is a classic example of white privilege that maintains the concept that white is normal and everything else is “other.” The third story was my favorite as far as plot and situations but I was regularly annoyed and offended by the representation of Isaiah.

Do I still recommend the book? Absolutely. I listened to the whole thing in one sitting and was a bit sad to have it end. Letty Dobesh is a great character. The author interjects after each story about how it fits – or doesn’t – with the television show on TNT. While I didn’t enjoy having him break in like that, I suppose it will help me not be ticked that the show doesn’t match the book since now I’ll know why.

Thanks to Thomas & Mercer (which has become one of my favorite publishing houses) and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Good Behavior.

You can download a sample or purchase Good Behavior by clicking here.

Cheri Reviews The Trapped Girl by Robert Dugoni

I had pretty high hopes for this episode of the Tracy Crosswhite series. It started out with someone stumbling upon a body in a crab trap – even though I had some problems with a sophomore in high school having $1500 saved up to buy a boat – and with Tracy’s team working together to solve the case. We were even teased with Katie Pryor maybe being a part of this one (she’s not).

Unfortunately, this is likely my least favorite of the full-length books in this series. I know that some of the things that bothered me may be edited out. I read an ARC a few months before the scheduled publication date (I’m writing this review in the beginning of October). But the things that didn’t work for me the most are directly related to the handling of Johnny Nolasco and the plot of the story, particularly the who-dunnit and why.

Of course, I can’t give away any spoilers but what I can say is that I was left scratching my head and re-reading sections to see if I missed something. I was pretty happy at 70% through, I still wasn’t completely sure who was bad or good because there were at least two plausible options. But around the 80% mark, my frustration and disbelief grew. That continued until the end when all I could do was shake my head and be glad it was over.

I liked the idea of the story and think it had potential to be an interesting book – the best book in the series, maybe. There was no action or edge of your seat moments, but the investigation and inter-departmental politics were interesting. There were great team interactions and we got to watch Tracy and Dan move forward with their relationship. Unfortunately, all that good stuff couldn’t make up for the way the actual crime was handled. It was very disappointing for me.

I received The Trapped Girl from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

You can download a sample or purchase The Trapped Girl by clicking here.

Cheri Reviews The 7th Canon by Robert Dugoni

When I saw a new stand-alone novel by Robert Dugoni on NetGalley.com, I couldn’t help but click “request.” I had already finished the first 3.5 (three novels and a short story) in his Tracy Crosswhite series and enjoyed most of them quite a bit. You can check out my review for the first in the series here.

The thing that I’ve discovered about Dugoni is that he can be very hit or miss with the execution of his stories. Sometimes they can be fast paced and intense and other times slow or have convoluted plots where detectives are able to deduce solutions out of what feels like nowhere. I’ve learned to be cautious with my expectations when it comes to this author. His newest release, The 7th Canon, was on the fast paced and intense side and it may be my favorite of the Dugoni books that I’ve read.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon if you care to read it:

In San Francisco’s seamy Tenderloin district, a teenage street hustler has been murdered in a shelter for boys. And the dedicated priest who runs the struggling home stands accused. But despite damning evidence that he’s a killer—and worse—Father Thomas Martin stands by his innocence. And attorney Peter Donley stands with him.

For three years Donley has cut his legal teeth in his uncle’s tiny, no-frills firm, where people come before profits. Just as Donley is poised to move on to a lucrative dream job, the shocking case lands in his lap, and he must put his future on hold while putting his courtroom skills to the test. But a ruthless DA seeking headlines and a brutal homicide cop bent on vengeance have their own agendas. Now, as he unearths the dirty secrets surrounding the case, Donley must risk his neck to save his client’s life…and expose the face of true evil.

I found myself liking Peter Donely quite a bit. He’s not the idealistic, young attorney out to save the world but a father and husband trying to figure out how to make a better life for his wife and toddler son. Once I got past the first few chapters, I struggled to put the book down because the story kept unfolding and I was completely caught up in not only the case, but learning about the lives of Donely and the private detective, Frank Ross, both of whom have dark days in their pasts that won’t let them move on.

At the end of the book, I was satisfied with the outcome of the case and where the characters ended this leg of their journey. If this ends up being a series, I would happily pick up book two. There is an audio version of this one but I’ve not heard any of it so I can’t speak to the narrator. I read this one with a combination of my eyeballs and a text-to-speech app.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You can download a sample or purchase The 7th Canon by clicking here.

Cheri Reviews My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni


I bought this ebook, and the audible version, for a few dollars back in October of 2014. I really didn’t know what it was about – I still haven’t read the blurb! – but I saw friends of mine putting it on their lists and giving it pretty high ratings so I figured for the price, I’d go ahead and grab it. I’d eventually get to it. It sat on my TBR list until a few days ago when a friend mentioned she was going to read it and I decided to join her.

In a nutshell, this is the first in a series featuring the protagonist, Tracy Crosswhite. She’s not the only one in the book with a POV but she’s the main character. She’s a homicide detective in Seattle who’s sister disappeared twenty years earlier. She always felt that the man convicted of her sister’s murder had been framed and the focus of her life seemed to be proving it. The discovery of her sister’s remains takes Tracy back to her hometown and forces her to deal with people and feelings she thought she wouldn’t ever have to face again.

After that, lots of stuff happens that you’ll have to read about if you decide to pick up the book. By the way, it’s still dirt cheap or free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Before I get to the things that I liked, there were a few things I didn’t care for. The author uses some of the same words and phrases to describe things. For example, it got a tad annoying to have each person blowing on and flexing their freezing fingers and how their bodies were numb or going to shut down. Or talking about the sashes of doors and windows. There are plenty of other examples but it got to the point where I would roll my eyes and just move on. There were also several places toward the very end that felt overly cheesy and melodramatic with the intent of emotionally manipulating the reader but didn’t actually make me feel anything.

There are also loads and loads of flashbacks. Most of them didn’t disrupt the flow and I felt that they added to the story the way they were done. But if you’re someone who absolutely hates flashbacks, you may want to download the sample to see how it goes for you.

I recommend reading this one with your eyes instead of the audio. I listened to a good chunk of the first half and had a tough time knowing when I hit a transition to the past since there were no announcements and I needed cues from the narration to place me in the right time. The narrator also made all the characters who Tracy views as antagonistic sound like total douchebags. Definitely one for the eyes.

The good parts far outweighed any of my negative feelings about the stuff above. The mystery was well done, I thought. I made my pick for the bad guy fairly early but quickly dismissed that one. After that, I just didn’t know and I was very satisfied with the way it played out. I thought the action bits were exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat. I was certainly engaged throughout and had a tough time putting the book down.

All in all, I enjoyed the book quite a bit. It was by no means perfect but it kept my attention and had me yelling out in surprise or shock several times. Once I got to about 60%, it was nearly impossible to stop. Not to say that the first half wasn’t good, it just wasn’t as quick-paced. Once things get moving, they don’t stop.

I absolutely think it’s worth a read and I’m looking forward to starting the next in the series soon.

You can download a sample or purchase My Sister’s Grave by clicking here.