Guest Post by Author Andrea Kane + Giveaway

Kane_Andrea_2010-190x300Today it is my very great pleasure to welcome Andrea Kane to Reading Reality. Andrea is the author of not just one of my new favorite series, but one of my favorite ensemble teams, the Forensic Institute team that solves the puzzles and catches the evildoers in her memorable thrillers, The Girl Who Disappeared Twice, The Line Between Here and Gone (reviewed here) and my review today of Andrea’s latest FI edge-of-your-seat suspense puzzler, The Stranger You Know.

I asked Andrea if she would write a bit about the creation of the crack (and sometimes wise-cracking) investigative team that makes this series such a terrific (and sometimes terrifying) joy to read.

Here’s Andrea…

Creating a Maverick Investigative Team
by Andrea Kane

I can’t remember the exact moment when the Forensic Instincts team was born. I just know that, rather than a single protagonist, my mind kept jumping from one character to another as I struggled to focus on one. At first, I was frustrated. I knew and understood Casey Woods. She was my strong, female protagonist. She had a background in behavioral analysis and psychology. She was no longer working for someone else— she was out on her own. She was vivid in my fertile imagination. Why then, did I keep flashing to a covert former-Navy SEAL/FBI agent and a hunky gym rat/techno genius? These guys weren’t Casey’s friends or lovers, so why were they intruding on my brewing storyline?

girl who disappeared twiceBecause they belonged in that storyline. In fact, they belonged in every storyline of what soon became the “core three” of the Forensic Instincts team. There would be three new members to that team (don’t forget to count Hero!) before Book #1— The Girl Who Disappeared Twice— was fully written. And, yes, there might be more yet to come.

Once I opened my mind up to the idea of writing an ensemble, rather than a single, protagonist, the floodgates burst open wide. What a completely different, yet completely cohesive, team of brilliant minds with one thing in common— a blatant disregard for the confines law enforcement placed on them that crimped their style. They were all about getting the job done, and getting it done now. Their skills were undisputable, as was their loyalty to each other. You’ll see just how loyal when you read The Stranger You Know, where one of their own is in danger.

line between here and gone goodreadsThere were definitely some highlight moments when I was forming Forensic Instincts. I loved giving Ryan a strategic mind and all the most cutting-edge technological skills, and yet not making him a Dilbert, but rather a smolderingly handsome hunk who attracted women like a magnet, and who was a gym-rat, to boot. Talk about destroying a stereotype! And Marc, with his Special Ops and FBI Behavioral Analysis background, being such an enigma with so many facets to him, including a softer side where it comes to children. Oh, and let’s not forget the non-human-but-human team members— Yoda, the supreme artificial intelligence system created by Ryan but with an hysterical personality all his own, and Gecko, the “little critter” that Ryan built who can crawl his way through physical boundaries to acquire audial and visual evidence that would be an impossibility for a human being to accomplish. Secretly, I think of Yoda and Gecko as C3PO and R2D2.

I could go on and on, but, suffice it to say that each team member became a whole human being to me— compelling, dynamic, and so relatable. I laugh out loud when they bicker like children, and I hunker down and root for them as they take on each challenge— some of which I don’t even know about until those challenges stop FI and me in our tracks.

I guess it’s obvious how much I love writing the Forensic Instincts team. For me, they’re the very best combination of memorable characters and nail-biting plots. The team and their investigations develop more with each passing book. I hope you read all the novels in the series, and that you feel the same magnetism and excitement in reading them as I feel in writing them.


For more information about the Forensic Instincts series, the FBI and my other novels, please visit, connect with me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.


Andrea and TLC Book Tours have graciously agreed to give away a print copy of The Stranger You Know to one lucky US/CAN winner. To enter, use the Rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: The Stranger You Know by Andrea Kane

stranger you know by andrea kaneFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Series: Forensic Instincts #3
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Date Released: September 24, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

It begins with a chilling phone call to Casey Woods. And ends with another girl dead.

College-age girls with long red hair. Brutally murdered, they’re posed like victims in a film noir. Each crime scene is eerily similar to the twisted fantasy of a serial offender now serving thirty years to life—a criminal brought to justice with the help of Forensic Instincts.

Call. Kill. Repeat. But the similarities are more than one psychopath’s desire to outdo another. As more red-haired victims are added to the body count, it becomes clear that each one has been chosen because of a unique connection to Casey—a connection that grows closer and closer to her.

Now the Forensic Instincts team must race to uncover the identity of a serial killer before his ever-tightening circle of death closes in on Casey as the ultimate target. As the stalker methodically moves in on his prey, his actions make one thing clear: he knows everything about Casey. And Casey realizes that this psychopathic won’t stop until he makes sure she’s dead.

My Review:

The title is a clue. It’s also a double play on words, both that the killer is a stranger that Casey Woods knows, and that people are often stranger than anyone can know. In this particular instance, quite a bit stranger.

girl who disappeared twiceAlso this third case that the Forensic Instincts team is investigating (after their awesome beginning in The Girl Who Disappeared Twice and equally compelling followup The Line Between Here and Gone) the two cases that the team is investigating are both about a stranger, and about someone that team leader Casey Woods knew all too well.

The kidnapping, rape and murder of her best friend 15 years ago was the impetus for Casey’s founding of Forensic Instincts in the first place. It may also be linked to the cold case that a dying father has asked them to re-open.

But when a serial rapist and murderer starts taunting Casey on the phone, linking new crimes to her past and to a psychopath definitely behind bars, the team scrambles to figure out what the link is between a prisoner supposedly without privileges and a killer who is definitely on the loose. Both of whom want revenge on Casey and are determined to torment her by killing an ever-tightening circle of women who look just like her.

The tension ratchets up higher and higher as the team brings all of their formidable talents to bear on catching the killers; while the shadowy assailant continues to stay one step ahead of them and his motive remains unknown.

Just when it seems that they have finally caught a break in the cold cases, they discover that they have only played into the hands of a convicted serial murder.

line between here and gone goodreadsEscape Rating A-: What makes the Forensic Instincts series so awesome is the team dynamic. Although this case turns out to be about Casey Woods and her past, the way it gets solved requires the talents of every member of the FI team, except possibly the dog.

The FI team is an absolutely marvelous example of the “Five-Man Band trope”. (See for complete explanation) If you have never previously delved into tvtropes, be prepared to lose at least an evening.

The story in Stranger is primarily of the suspense/thriller type. The reader follows the team and they solve the puzzle. We don’t know anything until they do. We might guess, but we don’t know, although we do get a couple of extra clues that they don’t, which is what separates this story from a true mystery.

Nevertheless, this is a chilling tale. We spend time following the thought processes of a serial killer and rapist as he self-aggrandizes and justifies his crimes. It’s ugly and so is he.

But it’s absolutely fascinating to watch the team solve the puzzle. The psychopath is one step ahead of them all the way, until the very end. Good triumphs over evil, but the cost is shown to be very, very high.

The ending packs one hell of a jolt.

This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.
***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

12 for 2012: The Best Dozen Books of My Year

It’s surprisingly difficult to decide which books were the absolute best from the year. Not so much the first few, those were kind of easy. But when it gets down to the last three or four, that’s where the nail-biting starts to come into play.

Looking back at the books I reviewed, I gave out a fair number of “A” ratings–but not very many “A+” ratings. And that’s as it should be. But there were also a couple of books that I read, and loved, but didn’t review. I bought them and didn’t write them up.

Love counts for a lot.

And there were a couple that just haunted me. They might not have been A+ books, but something about them made me stalk NetGalley for the rest of the year, searching for the next book in the series. Something, or someone that sticks in the mind that persistently matters.

This is my list of favorites for 2012. Your list, and your mileage, may vary.

Cold Days by Jim Butcher (reviewed 11/30/12). I started reading the Dresden Files out of nostalgia for Chicago, probably my favorite former hometown. But I fell in love with Harry’s snark, and stayed that way. Some of the books have been terrific, and some have been visits with an old friend. Cold Days is awesome, because Harry is finally filling those really big shoes he’s been clomping around Chicago in. He is a Power, and he finally recognizes it. And so does everyone else. What he does with that power, and how he keeps it from changing him, has only begun.


The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny (reviewed 8/29/12). Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series are murder-mysteries. They are also intensely deep character studies, and none in the series more deeply felt than this outing, which takes the Chief Inspector and his flawed second-in-command Jean-Guy Beauvoir to a remote monastery in northern Québec. The murder exposes the rot within the isolated monastic community, and the interference from the Sûreté Chief exposes the rot within the Sûreté itself, and within Gamache’s unit.


The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon (reviewed 6/20/12) The latest volume in Gabaldon’s Lord John series, which is a kind of historical mystery series. Lord John Grey solves military problems that tend to get wrapped up in politics. The Scottish prisoner of the title is Jamie Fraser, the hero of Gabaldon’s Outlander series, and takes place in the gap between Drums of Autumn and Voyager. The Scottish Prisoner has to do with an attempt by Lord John and his brother to prevent yet another Jacobite Rebellion by working with Jamie. If you like the Outlander series at all, this one is marvelous.


Cast in Peril by Michelle Sagara (reviewed 12/26/12) is the latest in Michelle Sagara’s Chronicles of Elantra series. Elantra is an urban fantasy, but the setting is a high fantasy world. The emperor is a dragon, for example. But the heroine is human, and flawed. She is also a member of the law enforcement agency. It just so happens that her desk sergeant is a lion. The commander is a hawk. Her best friends are immortal, and one of them is the spirit of a tower.  Kaylin’s striving each day to make the world better than she began it changes everything, even the unchanging immortals around her. Her journey fascinates.


Scholar and Princeps by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. I didn’t write reviews of these, and I should have, because I loved them both. Scholar and Princeps are the 4th and 5th books in the Imager Portfolio. The first three books, Imager, Imager’s Challenge, and Imager’s Portfolio were so good I practically shoved them at people. These new ones are in a prequel trilogy, but equally excellent. What’s different about these series is that Modesitt’s heroes in both cases are coming into their powers without it being a coming-of-age story. They are adults who are adjusting to new power and responsibility. It makes the story different from the usual epic fantasy.


The First Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay (reviewed 1/6/12). This book was an utter surprise and delight. A former Buddhist monk leaves the monastery, becomes an LAPD detective, and eventually, a private investigator. What a fascinating backstory! Tenzing Norbu, known as Ten, retains just enough of his outsider perspective to be a fascinating point-of-view character. I stalked NetGalley for months waiting for the next book in this series to appear, because I wanted more!


The Fallen Queen (reviewed at BLI on 7/3/12) and The Midnight Court (reviewed 8/14/12) by Jane Kindred. I said that Jane Kindred’s House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy reminded me of Russian tea, initially bitter, often and unexpectedly sweet, and filled with immensely complicated rituals. Also incredibly satisfying for those who savor a heady brew. Take Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of The Snow Queen and cross it with the history of the House of Romanov. Leaven it with the most complicated pantheon of angels and demons you can imagine, then stir well with the political machinations and sexual proclivities described in Kushiel’s Dart. Only with more heartbreak.

About Last Night by Ruthie Knox (reviewed 6/8/12) had me at hand-knitted straight-jacket. But it’s way more fun than that. Also more complicated. It’s the story of a formerly bad girl trying so damn hard to make up for her past mistakes, and unable to forgive herself, and one man who has tried much too hard for much too long to live up to his family’s expectations, in spite of the fact that what his family wants has nothing to do with what he wants for himself. They make a glorious mistake together, that turns out not to have been a mistake after all.


Taste Me (reviewed 12/11/12) and Chase Me (reviewed 12/12/12) by Tamara Hogan. The Underbelly Chronicles were a complete surprise, but in an absolutely fantastic way. They are paranormal romance of the urban fantasy persuasion, or the other way around. Every supernatural creature that we’ve ever imagined is real in Hogan’s version of Minneapolis, but with a fascinating twist. They’re real because they are the descendants of a wrecked space ship. That’s right, the vampires, and werewolves, and sirens, are all E.T. And when they find the wrecked ship’s black box after a thousand years, it phones home. The family reunion is coming up in book three. In the meantime, there is a lot of yummy interspecies romance.

The Girl Who Disappeared Twice and The Line Between Here and Gone (reviewed at BLI 6/19/12) by Andrea Kane. I disappeared into The Girl Who Disappeared Twice and didn’t reappear until the end of The Line Between Here and Gone, although I still find the title of the second one more than a bit incomprehensible. Just the same, the Forensic Instincts team that solves the extremely gripping and highly unusual crimes in this new series by Kane is a force to be reckoned with. They have that kind of perfect balance that you see in crime-solving teams with the best chemistry. They are a fantastic “five-man band” which makes it a pure pleasure to watch them work, no matter how gruesome the crime they were solving.

Blue Monday by Nicci French. I’m currently stalking Netgalley for the next book in this series, Tuesday’s Gone. Which is not here yet, so it can’t be bloody gone! This is a mystery, but with a more psychological bent, as the amateur sleuth is a forensic psychologist. This one gave me chills from beginning to end, but it’s the protagonist who has me coming back. Because her work is so personal, she’s both strong and fragile at the same time, and I want to see if she can keep going.


And for sheer impact, last and absolutely not least…

The Mine by John A Heldt (reviewed at BLI on 9/28/12). There are surprises, and then there are books that absolutely blow you away. If you have ever read Jack Finney’s classic Time and Again, The Mine will remind you of Finney. Heldt has crafted a story about a boy/man who accidentally goes back in time to America’s last golden summer, the summer of 1941. All he has is a few stories of Seattle in the 1940s that his grandmother told, and a fortunate memory for baseball statistics. What he does is fall in love, with a woman, a time, a place, and a way of life. And then he learns that he can come home, and that he must. No matter how much damage he does by leaving the people he has come to love, he knows that he will do more harm if he stays. The Mine will stick with you long after you finish.

That’s a wrap. I could have gone on. I though about adding honorable mentions, but that way lies madness. Definitely madness! I did list my Best Ebook Romances for 2012 on Library Journal again this year. There are a couple of repeats from that list to this one, but the qualifications are different. LJ has lots of other “best” lists, if you are looking for a few (dozen) more good books.

I’m dreaming of next year.


Review: The Line Between Here and Gone by Andrea Kane

Format Read: Print ARC picked up at a Conference
Number of Pages: 400 p.
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Publisher: Mira
Series: Forensic Instincts #2
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Formats Available: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Purchasing Info: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK)

Book Blurb:

“The man she loved is gone forever. The child she lives for could be next.”Each day is a struggle for Amanda Gleason’s newborn son as he battles a rare immune deficiency. Justin’s best chance for a cure lies with his father, who was brutally murdered before Amanda even realized she carried his child.

Or was he?

One emailed photo changes everything, planting a seed of doubt that Amanda latches on to for dear life: a recent photo of a man who looks exactly like Paul. Could Justin’s father be alive? The mother in her is desperate to find out. But tracking down a ghost when every second counts is not for amateurs.

“Forensic Instincts is the one team up for the challenge.”

A behaviorist. A former navy SEAL. A techno-wizard. An intuitive. A retired FBI agent. A human-scent-evidence dog. Together they achieve the impossible, pushing ethical and legal boundaries whenever the ends justify the means.

The manhunt is on for the elusive father. Yet the further FI digs into his past, the more questions are raised about whether the man Amanda fell in love with ever really existed at all.

Dark secrets. Carefully crafted lies. From the congressional halls of Washington, D.C., to exclusive Hamptons manors, there are ruthless people who would stop at nothing to make Forensic Instincts forget about the man Amanda desperately needs to find.

Little do “they” realize that once Forensic Instincts takes the case, nothing will stop them from uncovering the shocking truth that transcends “The Line Between Here and Gone.”

My Thoughts:

This was originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

The first book in the Forensic Instincts Series is The Girl Who Disappeared Twice, and I will say that its title makes way more sense than this one. It isn’t necessary to read Girl to read Line, but it helps to explain the team dynamic at Forensic Instincts, because that’s what drives this group. It’s about the team of crime solvers. And what makes them tick together. You don’t see much of how they tick separately.

And the book is so darn good you don’t care, either.

I kept seeing this as one of the crime shows, like Bones or NCIS, and it would so work.

This is a thriller, it’s all about solving the case. There’s no romance here, and there’s not supposed to be.

What you have is a tightly-knit organization of pretty-close-to-geniuses who got tired of trying to solve cases by coloring inside the lines, so they don’t. They work on cases where the ends really do justify the means.

Like rescuing a little girl from her kidnappers. That was Girl Who Disappeared Twice. In Line Between Here and Gone, it’s a case where an infant’s life is on the line. His mother thought the father was dead in a no-body homicide. But he’s been photographed after his supposed death.

She doesn’t want child support. It’s not that mundane. The baby, Justin, needs a bone-marrow transplant, and his mother is not a donor. His father is the best chance, if he can be found in time.

But about that no-body homicide–there’s a cover-up, and it’s a doozy. Somebody, it turns out lots of somebodies, don’t want anyone looking into that case. Not even to save a baby’s life. Even if they have to scare, or maybe kill, a few adults along the way.

This thriller kept me, not just up late, but glued to a chair until I finished it. I read Girl and Line back to back non-stop until I was done. The team at Forensic Instincts fits perfectly into the “Five Man Band” trope (see the TV Tropes Wiki for a complete description). This makes for not just a great organization, but a fantastic group dynamic for storytelling purposes.

And they have a totally awesome dog, named Hero, who frequently steals the show.

I give The Line Between Here and Gone 5 stars. I just wish it had a better title. I hated the title. I loved the book.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.