“A chilling psychological thriller about a woman caught between two men…
Mari Gill wakes to horror in a strange apartment next to a murdered man, and can’t remember the night before. Accused of murder, she feels torn between her husband, a successful defense attorney, and a mysterious, kind man who wants to help.
Can she trust either of them – or even her friends?
Detective Kerri Blasco battles her police bosses believing Mari is innocent…but is she?”
I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to one of my most eagerly anticipated blog tours of the year, Her Last Breath by the incredibly lovely J.A. Schneider (or Joyce to her friends!). Joyce has very kindly written a guest post to share with you today but before we dive in with that, I wanted to share again the post Joyce wrote for my #damppebblestakeover series which ran earlier this year. Joyce wrote a wonderful piece asking whether writing is really just self-analysis in disguise; you can read the post by clicking here.
Today though, I have a new post to share with you and it’s another corker. Over to you, Joyce…
What, really, is the best escape?
by J.A. Schneider
Too often, we all feel stress – and if it’s not stress it’s boredom, the everyday mundane jail cell. Stress or boredom are the bookends that squeeze much of our lives, but what to do? Dream of a more perfect love or help with financial problems or escape to exotic locations?
We flail, but what to do when immediate help is needed to feel better? What beats anything that comes out of bottles and lasts only briefly?
Books. The best sanity savers.
Reading will lift you from the mundane or troubling to the marvelous. Reading will transport you to other worlds, to characters you’ll either love or loathe or who will terrify you – but they’re really all your friends, see – because they’re the magic carpet ride to “outta here.”
Once, on a Paris sidewalk, I saw a family: wife, husband, and two pre-adolescent kids. The husband was yelling at his kids, who were sulking/sassing back, and the wife who was getting ignored was crying, “But this was our dream trip! We saved for this! Why are you all ruining it?”
The inevitable shrinking. It happens a lot.
I walked on, hoping that poor woman had a book to run and hide inside to help her calm, lose herself in a favorite romance, or a thriller whose heroine was in much worse straits than she was. I pictured that woman hopefully getting under a pillow with a flashlight and her favorite old paperback, telling the world to just go away, re-losing herself in that wonderful story she’d been reading.
So much for “dream trips,” or dream this or that. Mundane reality lurks everywhere.
Some people reading this know that I’ve traveled a lot, studied in other countries, gotten into some pretty wild-sounding situations (got arrested in the Soviet Union for spreading anti-Soviet propaganda – ha! I have a gift for getting into situations). And okay, many have asked about that, it’s in my Goodreads profile. And what I hear, mostly, is “Oh, that sounds so amazing, so interesting and fascinating.”
Well yes, it was…interesting to see those places, have those experiences, if only to tell you later about them.
But honestly, a field in Russia looks no different from a field in Connecticut, where I live.
And that castle in France so gorgeous on a poster, in reality is freezing eight months of the year and has lousy plumbing.
Reality, what a concept – it really, really often translates into ‘’the inevitable shrinking.”
Just give me a room, a quiet corner on a cozy couch and a wonderful book; that is where I’m happiest.
Because the best adventures take place between the ears.
That’s really your happy place. Your best place to grow, too.
This is such a good read! I haven’t had the pleasure of reading a J.A. Schneider novel before (Fear Dreams is on my wishlist) but I will definitely be making a beeline for her books in future. There’s something about this book and I can’t quite put my finger on it, but, gosh….it sucked me in!
Mari Gill wakes to a bloodbath. Thankfully it’s not her blood but that of a naked man lying next to her on the bed with a knife in his chest! Maybe she shouldn’t be so thankful after all. Did she kill him? Surely not! Mari, in a panic, spirals into a chronic asthma attack. Unable to breathe, she crawls through broken glass trying to escape the horror before her, before being taken into the strong arms of her saviour and given resuscitative breaths. With no memory of the night before, confused and scared, Mari is arrested for murder. Her soon to be ex-husband is a top attorney and is determined to clear his wife’s name. But Mari is torn, two men competing for her attention whilst all she wants to do is try and remember what happened that night. Kerri Blasco is on her side and firmly believes in Mari’s innocence. But who else can Mari trust? And I mean, really trust…?
Blasco and Brand are brilliant characters. I particularly loved Kerri Blasco with her strong determination but gentle approach. I’m not normally one for romance in my thrillers but the relationship between Blasco and Brand is so well done that you don’t really notice that they’re a couple. I also loved Mari Gill. She’s so suspicious of everyone around her. I didn’t need to spend time working out who the killer was as Mari did all of the detective work for me. So often, when reading a crime thriller, you want to shout at the characters and say ‘for goodness sake, are you REALLY going to do that..?’ (similar to a horror movie, ‘now why have you locked all the doors when you know the killer is inside the house with you’…) but there was no need with Mari. She was more suspicious than me!
The plot was intriguing and drew my attention throughout the book. I was on the edge of my seat for a large proportion, particularly for the closing chapters. There is a cracking twist which I certainly didn’t see coming. Joyce’s writing is punchy and without faff, just the way I like my books.
Would I recommend this book? I most definitely would. I’m excited to read Fear Dreams now, which is the first book in the Detective Kerri Blasco series. It’s a compelling read driven by intriguing, interesting characters. A brilliant plot with a fabulous twist to knock your socks off! Brilliant!
Four and a half stars out of five.
Many thanks to J.A. Schneider for providing me with a copy of Her Last Breath in exchange for an honest review.
J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek Magazine, a wife, mom, and reading addict. She loves thrillers…which may seem odd, since she was once a major in French Literature – wonderful but sometimes heavy stuff. Now, for years, she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and police procedure. Decades of being married to a physician who loves explaining medical concepts and reliving his experiences means there’ll often be medical angles even in “regular” thrillers that she writes. She lives with her family in Connecticut, USA.