The Swell

How about this cover? Beautiful! THE SWELL is Allie Reynolds follow-up to “Shiver.” THE SWELL takes readers on a surfing adventure with characters straight out of a wanna-be cult ready to protect THE SWELL against … anybody else.

I love when a book transports me to a completely different world than the one I live in. Twice now Allie Reynolds has plopped me right into settings that, if I’m being honest, I would be found dead on the first day.

THE SWELL sends us to a dangerous outdoor world in which a mini-cult has the mindset of living day-to-day with no real jobs and facing your freaking fears, even if that includes a load of mental and physical pain.

The swell – aka Mother Nature’s hidden cove in Australia – may be the true villain in the story. Imagine heat and waves upon waves featuring jagged rocks and cliffs. Maybe you could survive surfing. However, if you jumped from one of these cliffs would it be fun or would it be the equivalent to dying on cement? Who the heck knows? Just go with it, mate! Ahhhh, this is the antagonist that would kill me on the first day.

However, I’m so naïve and trusting, the merry band of “the tribe” would do me in before supper.

Kenna is out to save Mikki. Convinced that her best friend since childhood is in an abusive relationship she jet sets from London to Australia to save her. To Allie’s relief, it appears Mikki’s boyfriend is a somewhat okay dude. But when he takes them both on a trip to The Swell, all hell breaks loose.

Last year I went from freezing on the sofa imagining being locked on a snowy ski mountain while reading Allie’s debut, “Shiver,” to this summer pretending I’m sunburned and sun-drained on the sofa reading THE SWELL.

Allie has the ability to make you feel like you are one of these nomad characters. I kept picturing myself with this group of people. They are just a bunch of surfers, living off adrenalin (with not much food) and are in great physical shape just doing their best to keep the swell a secret. They want the place to themselves and will do anything to make that happen.

I can’t wait to see what setting Allie takes us next. Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam for providing me an e-copy of THE SWELL to review.

I rate THE SWELL five out of five stars.

The Butcher

THE BUTCHER, by Jennifer Hillier, is an intense story about a trio of people who are entwined with the city’s local serial killer.

Author Jennifer Hillier seems to have a high-key interest in serial killers. And that’s not a bad thing. Several of her books focus on murders committed by serial killers. I dug into the old book vault to the year 2014 to retrieve Hillier’s THE BUTCHER.

I’ll just start right off with a content warning: gruesome murders, suicide, incest, rape and abusive relationships are all at play in this story. However, there is a good story once you sort through all the terrifying aspects.

A rash of grisly serial murders plagued Seattle until the infamous “Beacon Hill Butcher” was finally hunted down and killed by police chief Edward Shank in 1985. Now, some thirty years later, Shank, retired and widowed, is giving up his large rambling Victorian house to his grandson Matt, whom he helped raise.

Settling back into his childhood home and doing some renovations in the backyard to make the house feel like his own, Matt, a young up-and-coming chef and restaurateur, stumbles upon a locked crate he’s never seen before. Curious, he picks the padlock and makes a discovery so gruesome it will forever haunt him… Faced with this deep dark family secret, Matt must decide whether to keep what he knows buried in the past, go to the police, or take matters into his own hands.

Meanwhile Matt’s girlfriend, Sam, has always suspected that her mother was murdered by the Beacon Hill Butcher—two years after the supposed Butcher was gunned down. As she pursues leads that will prove her right, Sam heads right into the path of Matt’s terrible secret.

I’ll be honest – there aren’t a lot of likeable characters in THE BUTCHER. Even Sam, the heroine, has a lot of faults, particularly that she doesn’t love her boyfriend so why does she put up with a lot of BS that she could have ended a long time ago? Why, girl? 

A woman believes her mother was murdered by THE BUTCHER when she was a toddler even though the evidence says otherwise.

However, this somewhat police-procedural has Sam digging to find out if her mother was killed by THE BUTCHER all the while suspecting he’s not dead. Matt is an absolute douche of a boyfriend, but he has demons to deal with, including his grandfather, the retired, famous police chief.

THE BUTCHER was certainly a page-turner and I did enjoy the viewpoint of the serial killer – no spoilers! – we get a glimpse into what his thoughts are as to why he killed people for years.

I’ve read Hillier’s Jar of Hearts (about a case involving a serial killer) and Little Secrets (about a child abduction, yikes!) and I enjoyed THE BUTCHER almost as much as those two. My library recently purchased Wonderland (a police procedural set in a circus) so I’ll review that one as soon as I’m finished reading it.

I rate THE BUTCHER four out of five stars.