Strangers She Knows

Strangers She Knows

by Christina Dodd

Paperback(Original)

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Overview

I have three deadly problems.

1. I’ve seriously offended a maniacal killer.

2. I just had a bullet removed from my brain.

3. My new daughter is growing up too fast—and she’s in the line of fire.

Living on an obscure, technology-free island off California means safety from the murderer who hunts Kellen Adams and her new family.…Or does it? Family time becomes terror-time, until Kellen finds herself alone and facing an all-to-familiar psychopath. Only one can survive, and Kellen knows who must win...and who must die.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781335468338
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 09/17/2019
Series: Cape Charade Series , #3
Edition description: Original
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 25,310
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes “edge-of-the-seat suspense” (Iris Johansen) with “brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd” (ALA Booklist). Her fifty-eight books have been called "scary, sexy, and smartly written" by Booklist and, much to her mother's delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. Enter Christina’s worlds and join her mailing list at www.christinadodd.com.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Cape Charade Washington's Pacific Coast This Spring

The Cape Charade undertaker, Arthur Earthman, never wanted to hear noises in the casket display room, especially after midnight.

But this had been a week of interesting firsts.

On Tuesday, a beautiful young woman, a grieving widow, had come into his office carrying a marriage certificate and a State of Washington Certificate of Exhumation. He hadn't even known Washington state required a Certificate of Exhumation, since he'd never exhumed a body before.

Through its entire existence, Cape Charade had been merely a wide spot on Highway 101, a place where summer tourists stopped for gas and lunch. The tiny cemetery, founded in 1879 by Arthur's ancestor as part of his mortuary business, had never contained more than 5,300 dear dead souls.

The widow, Miranda Nyugen, had been so sorrowful, so grief-stricken, so respectful of her Vietnamese husband's traditions, that Arthur ached for her. It didn't hurt that she was a beautiful woman, medium height, curvaceous, with shoulder-length, dark, shining hair, fair skin and piercing blue eyes. She had whispered her story in a voice shattered with heartbreak. She had met Mitch in California, two weeks before he was due to go overseas with the Army. He convinced her to wed, and they had driven to Las Vegas and married. They spent the next two weeks in bed, and he had left her alone, grieving, waiting for his emails and calls. The longer he was gone, the more and more infrequently she heard from him. At last, when she heard nothing for too many months, she scraped together all of her money and went to visit Mitch's parents.

In their shame, they could hardly look at her. Mitch had left the Army, gone to work at Yearning Sands Resort in Washington, and been killed while committing criminal acts. His immigrant family was deeply ashamed of him and the shadow his perfidy had cast upon them. Rather than bring his body home to them for burial, they had allowed him to be interred in the Cape Charade Cemetery where no one would visit him, no one would grieve for him.

Miranda said she didn't believe Mitch had committed any crimes — Arthur knew better, but he didn't tell the young widow — and she couldn't bear for him to remain in the ground here, unmourned and unloved. She would take him back with her to Wyoming to her family burial plot.

When Arthur asked why she would go through so much trouble for the husband she hardly knew, tears welled in her eyes.

Miranda and Mitch were the parents of twins, a boy and a girl. The children deserved to be able to mourn at their father's grave.

So today they had exhumed the casket with its body from its corner of the cemetery, making sure not to desecrate any of the surrounding graves, and now Arthur sat in his kitchen and told the whole story to his wife, Cynthia, as she cooked his dinner. When he was done talking, she turned away from the stovetop and asked, "You believe all that? About the wedding and the family and the kids? When did you become the world's biggest sucker?"

"I haven't!" Had he?

The scent of garlic and oregano wafted from the pot. "It's because she's pretty, isn't it?"

He prided himself on saying the right thing in delicate circumstances. "Not as pretty as you, honey."

"There's no fool like an old fool," she retorted.

"I'm not old!" Better to protest age than whether or not he'd been unwise.

She laughed, opened a can of stewed tomatoes and dumped it into the pot. "Did this woman pay for the excavator?"

"Yes. I have the check for that and the cost of my services." He pulled it out of his shirt pocket and placed it on the table.

"She wrote a check?" Cynthia left the stove, came to the table and examined it. "Hmm. Did you give her a discount?"

"No!" He had.

"Did you pay for flowers?"

"Yes. But we get a reduced rate from the florist."

"Arthur." Cynthia tapped her foot. "Where is the casket?"

"Mrs. Nyugen is grief-stricken and she wanted to pray for his soul in the proper surroundings —"

"You put him in the chapel? Are you crazy?" Cynthia threw her arms into the air in exaggerated exasperation. "That body's been in the cold, heavy, damp ground for four years, and now it's in the warm chapel? You know what could happen." She stomped back to the stove and very, very vigorously whisked the marinara.

"It's a magnificent casket, top of the line. You know, when the Nyugen family purchased it, we wondered if they felt guilty about leaving him here or if that kind of coffin was Vietnamese tradition."

Cynthia slammed a lid on the sauce.

"Anyway, I cleaned the exterior and did repairs on the seals before I would let him in there."

"Arthur William Earthman, you didn't let him in there. He's dead. You placed him in there. You could have placed him in the casket viewing room where the carpet isn't new!"

When she called him by his full name, it was time to distract her. "It's only for one night," he said in his most soothing voice.

"Don't use that undertaker tone with me!" She stirred pasta into the now boiling water.

He got up from the table, strolled over close behind her and rubbed her bottom. "Nothing excites me as much as watching you cook."

"Yeah, well. Nothing excites me as much as watching you vacuum."

"After dinner, I'll vacuum the living room."

"You must be feeling guilty." Her voice was still sharp. "Anything else you want to confess?"

"No. I swear. That's everything. Isn't that enough?"

"Plenty. Here." She handed him a full bowl of greens and a bottle of dressing. "Toss the salad." She watched him toss, and she sounded more like his Cynthia when she said, "After dinner, when you vacuum — wear a frilly apron and I'll make you the happiest man on earth."

So the distraction worked, as did the frilly apron, and when those disturbing noises from the mortuary woke Arthur out of a sound and well-deserved sleep, he tried to convince himself those sounds were his imagination. Finally he got up, murmured reassurance to Cynthia's sleepy questions, pulled on his boxers, cursed his ancestor for attaching the family's personal home to a funeral home, called 911 and went to investigate.

The noises were definitely coming from the casket display room where Mitch Nyugen had been placed prior to his transportation to Wyoming. Arthur wasn't a superstitious man — his business precluded fearing vampires, zombies or any form of the human body after the soul had departed — so he kept the lights off as he crept through the funeral home, intending to catch the intruders by surprise. He figured it had to be a couple of teenagers on a dare, and he intended to give them a good scare.

As he got closer to the chapel, it didn't do his nerves any good to see a faint light coming from under the closed door — it had been open earlier — and hear a low hum, like an electrical appliance.

Reaching the casket display room, he slammed open the door, flipped on all the lights and yelled, "Hey!" And reeled back in horror.

The coffin was open.

A dark-haired, young and slender woman stood over it, doing something inside — to the body.

"What are you doing?" Arthur shouted.

Right away, he realized something was off. She hadn't jumped, and he hadn't frightened her; it was almost as if she'd been waiting for him. She looked up at him through her veil of hair. Her blue eyes glowed with a mad obsession.

Miranda Nyugen. It was Miranda Nyugen. "Arthur," she crooned.

He started forward.

She lifted one finger, then pointed it at the object on the top step. "Don't step on that."

He stopped. He looked. "Is that part of the body? His hand? My God, woman, that was your husband."

She laughed wildly, her head thrown back, her enjoyment rich and intense. "Arthur, you vain and silly man. Don't you know when you've been played?" She started toward him. She held a small circular saw in one hand. She held her other hand behind her back.

"You've been cutting up the body? Miranda, you need help."

"It's my own interesting little obsession. We all get to have our obsessions, don't we?"

"No." He turned to leave, to get back to Cynthia and make his report to the sheriff who was on her way, but couldn't get there fast enough.

"You don't imagine you can leave?" Miranda grabbed his arm in a surprisingly strong grip and spun him around — onto the point of the arterial tube she'd stolen from his embalming set. A moment of resistance, then the six-inch-long needle pierced the skin and sank between his ribs in a long, upward motion. He had one moment of stupid hope: that she had grabbed a clean and unused arterial tube.

Then he realized it didn't matter. He knew anatomy as well as any physician; either through skill or blind luck, she had penetrated his heart.

He looked into her avid blue eyes.

Skill.

In his ears, he could hear each beat of his heart, and with each beat, he knew the powerful muscle contracted, pushing blood into his chest cavity.

Beat.

He writhed. He fell.

Beat.

Miranda Nyugen picked up the gruesome souvenir on the step.

Beat.

She placed it lovingly into her backpack.

Beat.

She leaned into the coffin, extracted something, dropped it into her backpack.

Beat.

She used one of the brass candlesticks to shatter one of their prized stained glass windows. Dark rushed in, misting his eyes with night.

She dragged a chair over, got ready to climb out. Someone screamed. Cynthia screamed.

Beat. Beat. Beat.

Miranda turned back, and all he could see was the porcelain gleam of her teeth as she smiled that terrible smile.

No, Cynthia. Run away!

He waited for the next beat.

It never came.

He never knew it. Not in this world.

CHAPTER 2

If there's one thing that's worse than not waking up after brain surgery, it's waking up after brain surgery. No matter how brilliant the surgeon, having someone poke around in your brain results in bruising and swelling and disconnected nerves.

For the surgeon, success equates a patient who comes to consciousness and is not in a vegetative state.

For the bruised and swollen brain patient, success equates sitting up and not falling over, learning to hold a spoon and use it (FYI, sticking it in your eye hurts), and being able to complete a sentence without forgetting half the words. Let's not even talk about potty training for adults.

Oh! And may I say, the medical staff gets agitated when a person (me) gets confused about her first name.

My husband, Max, told them not to worry.

That's because he knows the truth. I was born Cecilia, got married too young, was the victim of an abusive husband who had murder/suicided my cousin Kellen Rae Adams and them himself when she had come to rescue me. Being dumb, young and scared (I know, excuses! But I'm trying to give you the whole picture), I took her identification and ran with it. I made every bad decision, had been as cowardly as it was possible for a person to be, but then ... then I grew. I made the decision to truly be Kellen, to live for my cousin, to make myself worthy of my new name.

A six-year stint in the US Army had helped with that.

Except apparently after brain surgery, when I had flashbacks.

I know. I should be glad that I opened my eyes and once again saw my daughter and my husband, knew who they were, had their support and their love.

I am.

I am!

Any woman who caught a bullet with her head and was lucky enough to wake up afterward, and then, years later, successfully survive the surgery to remove said bullet, is glad for all the good things in life.

But while I was spending five hours a day with a physical therapist, my daughter was growing up without me and my husband, Max, wouldn't talk to me about anything that might worry me, and that means anything of substance. Honestly, everything was about me — I heard you took your first step today. Your manual dexterity is improving by leaps and bounds ... on the left hand. Your hair is growing out and you don't look like a cracked Chia Pet troll anymore!

Okay, that last one was me. No one said I looked like a Chia Pet troll, cracked or otherwise. But when they shave your head and slice through the skull, and the swelling extends over half your face, it's not a pretty sight. Not that I'm vain, but ...

Okay, I guess I am.

As I recovered, my hair grew in white, so I dyed the tips a brilliant green. My mother-in-law said I looked like a healthy lawn. Now I change the color seasonally, and not merely to irk Verona, although that is an added benefit. At Christmas, I dye my hair stained-glass-window red, in the autumn, pumpkin spice orange, in February, purple because ... why not? I had to re-dye the springtime daffodil yellow. I love daffodils, but the yellow turned my complexion sallow.

After a mere month in the hospital, two months in a rehab home, another two weeks in the hospital to fix a cracked hip (I got impatient and tried to get up on my own), a return to the rehab home, working, working, working, and finally discovering I had problems that would never be fixed and memory quirks that were downright scary ... I got to go home, to Yearning Sands Resort.

Meanwhile, my Aunt Cora had died in a memory care center, I'd missed so much of my little girl's life she was barely a little girl anymore and my married life had faltered at the altar.

Turns out, that was the least of my worries. Our worries.

I'm Kellen Adams, and the fun had barely begun.

CHAPTER 3

Yearning Sands Resort Washington's Pacific Coast This Spring

Rae Di Luca stacked up her Level Three lesson books, opened the piano bench and put them away. She got out the Adult Course Level 1A book, opened it to "Silver Bells," and put it on the music rack. "Mom, you have to practice."

Kellen didn't look up from her book. "I know."

"When?"

"When what?"

"When are you going to do it?"

"I'm at the good part. Let me finish this chapter."

"No, you have to practice now. You know it helps with your finger dexterity."

When had their roles reversed, Kellen wondered? When had ten-year-old Rae become the sensible adult and Kellen become the balky child?

Oh yeah. When she had the brain surgery, her right hand refused to regain its former abilities, and the physical therapist suggested learning the piano. But there was a reason Kellen hadn't learned to play the piano earlier in her life. She loved music — and she had no musical talent. That, added to the terrible atrophy that afflicted her fingers, made her lessons and practices an unsurpassed agony ... for everyone.

She looked up, saw Rae standing, poised between coaxing and impatience, and the Rolodex in Kellen's punctured, operated-on and much-abused brain clicked in:

RAE DI LUCA:

FEMALE, 10YO, 5'0", 95LBS. KELLEN'S DAUGHTER. HER MIRACLE. IN TRANSITION: GIRL TO WOMAN, BLOND HAIR TO BROWN, BROWN EYES LIGHTENING TO HAZEL. LONG LEGS; GAWKY. SKIN A COMBINATION OF HER ITALIAN HERITAGE FROM HER FATHER AND THE NATIVE AMERICAN BLOOD FROM KELLEN; FIRST PIMPLE ON HER CHIN. NEVER TEMPERAMENTAL. KIND, STRONG, INDEPENDENT.

Kellen loved this kid. The feeling was more than human. It was feral, too, and Kellen would do anything to protect Rae from threat — and had. "I know. I'm coming. It's so much more fun to listen to you play than practice myself. You're good and I'm ... awful."

"I'm not good. I'm just better than you." Rae came over and wrapped her arms around Kellen's neck, hugged and laughed. "But Luna is better than you."

"Don't talk to me about that dog. She howls every time I sit down at the piano. Sometimes she doesn't even wait until I start playing. The traitor." Kellen glared at the dog, and once again her brain — which had developed this ability after that shot to the head — sorted through the files of identity cards to read:

LUNA:

FEMALE, FULL-SIZED POODLE/AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG/AT LEAST ONE OTHER BREED, 50LBS, RED COAT, BROWN EYES, STRONGLY MUSCLED. RESCUED BY RAE AND MAX WHILE KELLEN RECOVERED FROM SURGERY. FAMILY MEMBER. RAE'S FRIEND, COMPANION, PROTECTOR. MUSIC LOVER.

Luna watched Kellen in return, head resting on her paws, waiting for her chance to sing a solo protest to Kellen's inept rendition of "Silver Bells."

"Everybody's a critic." Rae set the timer. "Come on. Ten minutes of scales, then you only have to practice for thirty minutes."

"Why do I have to practice 'Silver Bells'? Christmas isn't for seven months."

"So you'll have mastered it by the time the season rolls around."

"I used to like that song."

"We all used to like that song." Rae took Kellen's left hand and tugged. "Mom, come on. You know you feel better after- ward."

Kellen allowed herself to be brought to her feet. "I'm going to do something wild and crazy. I'm going to start learning 'When the Saints Go Marching In.' It's the next song in the book, and I like it."

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Strangers She Knows"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Christina Dodd.
Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Strangers She Knows 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 90 reviews.
Colober1 16 days ago
Wow! What an exciting addition to this series! The book begins with the heroine recovering from brain surgery while trying to reconnect with her husband and 10 year old daughter. An old foe who has vowed to kill her enters the picture and the family must flee to a remote island. The suspense is non-stop from there. Mix is some rekindled romance and parenting of a daughter on the cusp of adolescence and you have a thoroughly enjoyable story.
bookworm56 21 days ago
WOW!!! Christina Dodd delivers as no one else can. The final chapter of the cape charade series will keep you at the edge of your seat! The twists and turns and little surprises will definitely keep your attention to the end. Sad to see it end but happy to have been there for their story.
Anonymous 4 days ago
I am so glad this ending was so good and exciting! Wow! What an adventure this series was!
Anonymous 4 days ago
I loved every moment of this book. Christina Dodd writes great stories.
dibbylodd 6 days ago
I'm not big on "thrillers", but Dodd manages to balance the thrills (and plenty of them) with enough calmer times that this suits me just fine. Exciting with fascinating characters.
Sharla-Long 10 days ago
This installment in the Cape Charade is probably my favorite in the series. I love the dynamics between Kellen, Max, and Rae. I loved the setting and side characters in this story, especially the diary. I actually felt for Mara (for a few pages) and that says a lot, when you get so caught up in the story of the characters that you forget how awful they are! I can honestly say this book kept me on the edge of my chair, I giggled, and I cried. My emotions got all tangled up in this series and it was fabulous!
Foxbrains 12 days ago
I received an ARC copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This is the third book in the Cape Charade series. Kellen Adams is a hard character to like. In the cape charade series, she has had one life altering tragic event after another to happen to her. From the most honorable and reasonable form of identity theft, to being shot to protect a stranger, with a bullet left in her head, to psychopaths friends, to a baby that she didn’t know she had, this series is camp at its best. Aside from some of the far-fetched plot devices and conflicts, I enjoyed this book and this series. There were some flaws, some items that didn’t make sense, some items that seemed to be shoehorned in just to make the plot make sense at the end, but they weren’t enough to make me dislike the book. By this the third novel in the series, everyone is tired. The characters are tired, the plot is tired, even the dog is tired. I don’t think Dodd was tired of writing these characters, but I think their current story line was tired and Dodd needed a way for these folks to get their happily ever after. Max, Rae, Max’s Mom, they are all interesting characters, everyone of them is someone who has a history and fits in nicely with the series story line, although in this novel the characters were flat. They seemed tired. Even the villains, are interesting people. In this case, Mara, Kellen’s Arch “Frienemy” comes back to haunt her. Some explanation was a bit lacking, how did she get out of prison? She convinced people she didn’t belong there? How does somebody not notice that she isn’t there for months? Considering what she was incarcerated for, you would think that the prison system would have handled her a little more carefully. It’s a little cliché for the villain of the first book in the series to come back and wreak Havok in the final book, but if you ignore the improbability of how she got out, Mara is the picture of a perfect madwoman. The story within the story, brought in through finding an old diary in an old house, was well done. T worked as a way to keep a tween entertained. The ending seemed rushed. It seemed like I took a really long time to get to the point. Maybe that why it seemed so “tired.” Maybe I was just tired too by the time I got there. Even with its faults, it was a fun read, and I am actually a little disappointed that we wont be hearing of my adventures from Kellen and Max and Rae.
LucyCesar 12 days ago
Strangers she knows is the penultimate book in Christina Dodd’s Cape Charade series and it does not disappoint. The book builds suspense from the first pages through an explosive finish. The first half of the book the suspense builds slowly as the heroine, Kellan, builds closer ties with her family while recovering from brain surgery. The suspense builds and the second half of the book is packed with action. I especially enjoyed the plot twist around the secret in the house. This was a story I found difficult to put down and I wound up staying up until 2 AM to finish it (I was a little tired at work the next day but it was worth it!).
ChrisLA 13 days ago
Kellen is still recuperating from having a bullet removed from her brain. With the help of her loving husband Max and witty, adventurous, outspoken daughter Rae, Kellen is finally starting to fell like herself and be able to connect with her family. So of course a maniacal serial killer comes after Kellen and those she loves. A small private island the Di Luca family owns off the coast of California should be the perfect place for Kellen, Max, Rae, and their dog Luna to stay safe while authorities search for the killer, right? I won't give too much away, but while on the island they find a journal written by Ruby Morgade dating back from September 1938. Lets just say Ruby's life story is worthy of its own book. I found myself just as intrigued and emotionally involved with Ruby as I was with Kellen . Christina Dodd's writing makes you feel as if you personally know the characters and you can't put the book down until you find out if they are safe and happy. I did receive a free copy of this book from the author in return for a reveiew.
A-bibliophile 13 days ago
Strangers She Knows completes the Cape Charade series. I will miss Kellen and her edgy, intelligent character. Her daughter, Rae is a precocious handful and Max is a resourceful and loving husband. The story of Ruby was very enjoyable, told through her journals by Kellen and Rae. I cannot wait for Christina Dodd’s next series!
Scifi_Warrior 13 days ago
I enjoyed the last book of the series as you were wondering how the surgery went and what the effects was after the surgery. It was a ride from start to finish as you wonder when Mara would be appearing and how Kellen would handle her when she found them. Especially when you read the their interaction, it made you root for Kellen to survive to have a life with Max and Rae. It was also fun to have a bonding on the family on the car and with Ruby story as you waited to see the next steps of Mara coming for them. I enjoyed the journey from start to finish and hope we see Kellen and her family in the future.
mspring4 13 days ago
I have been eagerly awaiting the conclusion to Kellen’s story. Kellen’s life has been a roller-coaster, but it was finally getting back on track with her marriage to Max. Kellen’s brain surgery and the threat of her nemesis, Mara, lead her and Max to make important decisions. The safety of their daughter Rae is their number one priority. Set on a remote island the suspense builds as we watch Kellen recover and worry if they are safe from Mara. The family dynamic is highlighted as we watch how Rae has grown and dealt with life’s struggles. The twist and turns kept me reading until the very end. I loved how the book ended and especially the last line. Highly recommend.
maresky 13 days ago
Kellen, Max and Rae have returned in a real nail biter of a storyline. We fast forward two years from Kellen's collapse at her wedding. She is still struggling with some physical and emotional issues from the brain surgery. Enter Mara Phillippi - a sadistic killer that wants to destroy Kellen by killing everyone that means anything to her - especially Max and Rae. When Max learns that Mara has escaped from her maximum security prison, he flies the three of them to Isla Paraiso, an isolated island off the coast of Washington. The island itself has a strange group of individuals. There are the Conkle's. They have been the caretakers of the island for many years. Dylan is slowly becoming crazy from the isolation and addiction to his own home brewed alcohol and drugs. Jaime, His wife, wants the island to remain pristine, and sees the DiLuca's arrival as a threat. Olympia came to the island as a housekeeper/cook for the DiLuca's. The house - actually a mansion - is very old and holds its own secrets. It has secret passageways and rooms. Stir this pot of characters with the island and the mansion - then throw in a big storm and you have one dynamite of a story.
Emilia_P 13 days ago
I don't often like to read suspense/thriller series because a cliffhanger ending that will not be resolved for months, or even years, drives me crazy. But I love Christina Dodd, so I had to read the Cape Charade books. Even though I had to live through 2 cliff-hangers, I'm so glad I did. I love Kellen. She's a tough, imperfect woman, who has had some real challenges in live. I adore Rae. She reminds me of my own kids, especially in Strangers She Knows. The attitude. The quick changes in mood. The cuddles one minute, the yelling the next. And her struggle with her feelings towards Kellen's vulnerabilities and the attention she gets because of them is really well written. I think we've all had those moments when we're upset because someone else is getting all the attention, but we conflicted because we know they need it, but we want some too. You know what I mean, the whole "What about my struggles?" feelings. Now, is this book realistic? No, not really. I said I love Kellen, but I realize that what she's been through is not normal/common/likely to have ever happened to a person ever in the history of the world. But that doesn't bother me. I don't read Christina Dodd because she writes about real life in a really realistic way. I read Christina Dodd because she crafts such an amazing story that these things don't bother me. While I'm reading I don't care that I can't really relate to a family so rich that they own islands that they can fly to in their own helicopters. Or that I've never had a serial determined to kill me. Christina Dodd is my go to author when I need to escape my life full of messy houses, burnt dinners, and whiny kids. She takes me away. And where she leads, I will follow.
Kay_D 13 days ago
Great Edge-of-Your-Seat Finale to the Cape Charade series This suspense conclusion to the Cape Charade series is by turns touching and terrifying. Kellen is recovering from having a bullet removed from her brain, which means physical limitations as well as some brain healing needed. As she works to recover dexterity of her hand, part of her therapy includes practicing the piano, which is torture to both Kellen and their dog Luna. Unfortunately, psychotic serial-killer Mara Phillipi is on the loose, and Kellen has everything to lose if she loses to Mara. For the family’s safety, Max, Kellen, and Rae (as well as their cook and dog), travel to a remote island free of the normal communication devices –no phone, no computer. As Kellen and Max begin to settle into their relationship, it’s really Kellen’s relationship with her daughter Rae that always gets to me – love their conversations. You will stay on the edge of your seat for this thrilling conclusion. My copy was provided in advance by the author in exchange for an honest review.
splashjc 13 days ago
OMG! What a story and ending! The first chapter is unbelievably riveting. Solid, well-written characters are hiding out from a crafty serial killer named Mara. I love when Kellen and her daughter Rae come across Ruby Morgade's diary and her story unravels. I couldn't put this down till the end. This is an amazing series you just have to read if you love suspense. If you know me, you know that I don't like to give anything away in a review. So, all I can truly say is, go read this book. I recommend starting with book one though.
Scherzlein 14 days ago
I had read the other two novels and all the novellas in this series, and was anxious to find out how the story ended. Of course, given the genre, I knew that things would turn out well in the end, but how would we get there? Honestly, I was terrified the entire time, waiting for that other shoe to drop, for Mara to show up, and to see how Kellen handled her, given the fact that the brain surgery to remove the bullet left Kellen with some weaknesses. Christina Dodd drew the suspense out by giving us glimpses throughout the book of Mara playing her cat and mouse game with Kellen and her family before the final encounters took place. Dodd also gave us a history lesson through the WWII era diary of the prior owner of the home in which Kellen, Max, and Rae are trying to hide from Mara while waiting for her to be captured. Dodd mixes humor and terror in a thoroughly engaging way, creates quirky but real characters, and leaves the reader both satisfied and wanting more. Another tour de force!
BMarquart 14 days ago
Strangers She Knows was a must read book for me as I had already read the previous books in the series and was anxiously awaiting the series conclusion. I was not disappointed! Christina Dodd did a great job of describing a family still in the process of getting to know each other after Kellen's brain surgery, just days after marriage, disrupted their lives. As if that were not enough to deal with, Kellen and Max learn that a woman with a vendetta against Kellen has escaped from prison. What follows is a thrilling cat and mouse game, interwoven with family growing pains, grisly murder, and mysterious occurrences. There is a little bit of history about the house where the family hides and its former occupants. And there is enough humor to keep it fun. I loved this book and the family and hope they make cameo appearances in future books! I received a copy of Strangers She Knows from the author in exchange for an honest review.
perriknows 14 days ago
When we last left Kellen she was recovering from brain surgery, although it was touch and go for a while. A psychopath with a vendetta, Mara Philippi, has escaped a maximum security facility for the criminally insane. This psychopath has targeted Kellen, her husband Max, and their daughter Rae. Moving to an island off the Northern California coast, the family feels like they're safe for now, and are awaiting confirmation that Mara has been captured. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen and the family is in more danger than they know! What a great read. I've been engrossed in this series from the beginning and have been anxiously awaiting this final chapter in the saga. Idyllic picnics, bike riding, fresh air and sunshine, are overshadowed by murder, mayhem, possible ghosts, terror, and storms. The climactic scene between Kellen and Mara was wonderfully written and thought out. Finding and reading the diary of Rose, the daughter of the family who built the house on the island was perfect. The addition of this story within the story was masterful. Without that, who would have triumphed? This is the final book (oh please I hope not...at least a short story to tie down the loose ends) of the Cape Charade series. I think reading all the books in this series in order helps with the enjoyment of the whole story line. You could read Strangers She Knows without reading the first two full length novels, since there is some backstory in this book, but I think your reading pleasure would be enhanced by reading them in order.
mlyn2 15 days ago
I read Strangers She Knows while lying in a hospital recovering from brain surgery. I was sure it was going to be a marvelous ending to a great trio. I was so wrong, what did she do with the characters from the first two books. Max was about as exciting as milk toast and all decisions were his to make, no matter what Kellen wanted. Rae never got a chance to make a decision she had to be kept safe. That's all I'm saying, that's my opinion, yours may totally different.
Sallylc 15 days ago
Christina Dodd’s “Strangers She Knows”- the third installment in her Cape Charade series – is another edgy, emotional thriller but Dodd throws in the additional element of humor. Kellen and her family are trying to escape the psychotic killer who is still on her trail by moving to a remote family owned island off the coast of California. Kellen has just undergone brain surgery and she is not at her physical best. The estate is rumored to be haunted and the caretakers are less than welcoming. After the protagonist reaches the island, the reader is in a constant state of high adrenaline suspense. This book is worth buying purely for the humorous authenticity of the dialog between Kellen and her now 10 year old daughter, Rae. I was sorry for this story to end. After 3 books I feel invested in what happens to Kellen and her family.
Smokeyec 15 days ago
I am so sad to see this series end. The complete lack of respect for sleep that I had while reading this attests to how good it is. An amazing ending to a great series. You won't regret this read. Besides the primary story there was a secondary story that was equally as riveting. You will not be able to put this one down.
Middle-of-the-nighter 15 days ago
"Strangers She Knows", the last book in Christina Dodd’s Cape Charade Trilogy, picks up the story a period of time after the cliffhanger ending of the second book, "What Doesn’t Kill Her". Trust me, there were extenuating circumstances… Kellen (ever the warrior we love!) is dealing with some post-surgery issues that negatively affect her ability to once again battle her arch-nemesis; Mara, newly escaped from prison and smarter and more dangerous than before, is out to destroy everything Kellen holds dear; Rae is tumbling into the throes of pre-teen angst, and Max is simply trying to hold everything together and keep his family safe from a madwoman. Psychopathy, survival instinct, and a remote setting collide into a perfect storm of danger and suspense. I won’t talk about the plot here at risk of giving away a spoiler or two, but here’s what I love about this book: Fast pace; complex, well-drawn characters; strong female leads; and loose ends were tied up. Does the plot stretch credibility in places? Umm, yeah. Will you care? Unlikely – Dodd’s books draw you in and you will be compelled to finish this one once you start reading. Buy the book – it’s worth it!
Michellel701 15 days ago
This is the final book in the Cape Charade series. Ms. Dodd does a wonderful job with the adventures of Kellen, Rae and Max. Just as they are finally settling into becoming a real family, danger threatens to destroy them. Great characters, great storyline, suspense along with a little romance. I will miss these characters, and hope they may show up in future stories.
Anonymous 15 days ago
I love reading all of Christina's books and this was no exception. She has wonderful character development and dialogue. I hate to see this series end. It was suspenseful, romantic and true to life. I could not put it down and read it in one sitting. I do not want to spoil it for anyone so all I will say is this book is a must buy.