Review: Dr. Charlotte Stone Series

*Originally published on 2015/10/01

13114564.jpgTHE LAST VICTIM  (Dr. Charlotte Stone: #1) Written by Karen Robards

 2012; 321 Pages (Random House)

Genre: romantic suspense, mystery, paranormal 

Rating: ★★★

My first book by Karen Robards was Superstition – a romantic-suspense with paranormal elements. I enjoyed the storyline, characters and found it quite good on the suspense scale.  I have since read several books by Robards and on the whole have really liked them.  In 2012, while at the library I picked up her newest novel in hardcover, The Last Victim.  I had not read the synopsis as Robards was now on my “must-read” authors.  The novel starts with Dr. Charlotte “Charlie” Stone, an expert in criminal pathology, interviewing serial killers on death row for her research.  The serial killer we meet along with Charlie is Michael Garland.  Charlie is a buttoned-down by the rule kind of gal but has this other side to her.  Michael who is a charming smart-ass ruffles her feathers a little but wants to see her really flustered.  Then Michael is killed by another inmate and Charlie is the only one that can see him, along with the FBI clamoring for her assistance on another serial killer…wait…oh, did I mention that Charlie has the ability to see spirits?  Yes, she can she communicate and see ghosts.  When Michael realizes she can see him he attaches himself to her.  As Charlie tries to aid the FBI with the Boardwalk Killer – who is either a copy cat or that same killer that murdered her best friend, Holly when they were just young girls.

We are also introduced to FBI Agent, Tony Bartoli who serves as the good guy love interest while Michael is the bad boy foil.  Now I didn’t think there was going to be much of a love triangle as one is alive and well, the other is dead…and a serial killer.  I liked the banter between Michael and Charlie but I am not buying the romance angle.  I like Tony and think he would make a great hero. As I read the book I was intrigued enough to keep reading and was enjoying it but there were times i was putting the book down and saying “really?”  I enjoy paranormal novel but ghosts and humans as love interests is not my thing…in saying that I will be reading the next book in the series, lol.

 

 

16156295THE LAST KISS GOODBYE (Dr. Charlotte Stone: #2) Written by Karen Robards

 2013; 336 Pages (Random House)

Genre: romantic suspense, mystery, paranormal 

Rating: ★★★

(I received an ARC from NetGalley).

Charlie, an expert in criminal pathology, is great at her job in seeing what is in the minds of killers and can also see dead people! In fact, the man she is starting to have feelings for is a ghost and may also be a serial killer.  Trying to runaway from that part of her life she puts her energy into helping the FBI capture the killer dubbed as the “Gingerbread Man.”  In helping Agent Bartoli she may have just put herself in the spotlight and maybe the next victim for the cruel manipulating murderer.  As Charlie tries to feel more towards the living man in her life who has only shown her kindness she give Michael more ammunition to never leave her side.  While she figures out her love life can she also capture a killer.

I enjoyed this novel a lot more than the last book, The Last Victim.  In this novel, we have bypassed the “she-can-see-dead-people” thing and that her best friend is a psychic (and maybe a Voodoo Priestess), but to be honest I am still “ugh” about the ghost and human romance thing.  The one thing I love about Karen Robards’ writing is that the suspense and character development take center stage so that little things like weird ghost relationships don’t seem so bad or a deal breaker.  I also am not a fan of love triangles but Robards keeps it from getting juvenile.  Charlie has two men who are vying for her attention and she is legitimately – in my opinion – thinking it over.  I also like that we see more of Buzz and Lena and get to see more of their characters development.  I am in for the third book.

 

18811375.jpgTHE LAST WHISPER (Dr. Charlotte Stone: #3) Written by Karen Robards

 2014; 352 Pages (Random House)

Genre: romantic suspense, mystery, paranormal 

Rating: ★★★

(I received an ARC from NetGalley).

 After her last case Charlie is thinking about staying on the sidelines when it comes to capturing serial killers.  She almost makes good on that promise until Lena, an Agent that Charlie aids in special cases, personally asks fer her help.  Lena’s sister, Giselle is missing and what she does know sounds like the MO for the Cinderella Killer.  Lena wants more than her professional help but also her unique skill of seeing dead people.  Charlie heads to Las Vegas with her best friend, Tam and her lover and ghost, Michael in tow.

I am really enjoying this series far more than I would have imagined.  This paranormal romantic-suspense series has a great female lead.  While she is not always the wisest with her decision making she is realistically flawed which makes her more endearing.  Michael, her ghost love interest, is charming, dangerous and a bad bet for a future.  Together the two differently wounded characters have great chemistry and their “romance” and future is very intriguing.  In saying that I should warn you that book three leaves you with a huge cliffhanger.  As soon as you reach the last sentence you cannot believe the novel has ended.  There better be a book four or I am going to be very disappointed.

So what about the mystery?  Right, Kaminsky’s sister has gone missing and Charlie is called in to help the FBI Special Unit find her.  This book is more of a character and spirit world storyline than mystery.  There is still suspense in other aspects and I enjoyed this novel but be warned as a standalone this novel may not work so well.

23303672THE LAST TIME I SAW HER (Dr. Charlotte Stone: #3) Written by Karen Robards

 2015; 336 Pages (Random House)

Genre: romantic suspense, mystery, paranormal 

Rating: ★★★1/2

(I received an ARC from NetGalley).

Last summer when I finished the third book, Last Whisper, I was a bit shattered when it ended with a cliffhanger.  I thought if this was the last book in the series I would be devastated.  After I picked myself up off the floor I moved on with life the best that I could.  As other books came into my life I slowly let Charlie and Michael go.  By the time I saw that book four was being released (my mind probably had blocked out the trauma) I had not realized that I needed to read this book AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! Last week, I realized I missed reading and reviewing this book in August and September so I decided to get on that. OMG as soon as I started the first page all the emotions and scenes from book three flashed through my eyes.  I spent my day off reading as much as I could.

This is a hard book to review as everything I want to say sounds like a spoiler or might lead to a spoiler.  So bare with me please…Charlie heads back into work, after some time off, to hand over files to a lawyer who could be Michael’s twin…except they have different eye colours.  Before Charlie can investigate him there is a prison break on death row and she is taken hostage along with a school bus with young kids. While her life is in danger all she can think about is clearing Michael.

From the first chapter I was hooked till the end but I did have a few little problems.  There were certain things and parts of the story that kept getting repetitive to the point I was getting a bit annoyed.  Charlie’s devotion for Michael at times felt over the top but I think it annoyed me only because of the ghost/human relationship.  And, the last 1/4 of the book felt really rushed. I would have rather the book ended on another cliffhanger and for another novel to be written.  I am not sure if this is the last book in the series.  Robards did tie everything up and there was no real anticipation for another book.  Yet, if there is book 5 on how things progress I would definitely read it.

 

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