Top Ten Tuesday: Villains Who Kept Me Guessing

Posted October 4, 2016 by meezcarrie in Brandilyn Collins, Carrie Stuart Parks, Colleen Coble, Dani Pettrey, Deb Richardson-Moore, Irene Hannon, Lynette Eason, mystery/suspense, Patricia Bradley, Shelley Shepard Gray, Terri Blackstock, Top Ten Tuesday / 27 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday Favorite

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is “All About Villains” and to be honest I struggled with a topic idea for this one. I don’t have a plethora of favorite villains. In fact, I can’t think of any off the top of my head… unless they end up NOT being a villain/bad guy in a later book (VANCE EVERSTONE!!! By the way … while I’m chasing this rabbit trail for a moment. Dawn Crandall’s newest book The Cautious Maiden releases TODAY and it is PHENOMENAL! One of my favoritest favorites of all! A redeemed rogue like no other… be still my heart!! Go grab a copy. You can thank me later.)

But I do love a good mystery. However, I’m saving “my favorite mysteries” for the Halloween freebie coming up later this month. So after much agonizing (not really) I decided to talk today about the villains who stumped me. Or, more specifically, on the mystery & suspense novels where I didn’t figure out the villain until nearly the end (unusual for me as I grew up on a steady diet of Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, Murder She Wrote, Perry Mason, and Matlock lol).


And … you know … I’m not giving away spoilers (I don’t want to be a villain lol) so I’m not naming villainous names. Just the book and the blurb so you can try and solve it faster than me 😉

In no particular order …


vain-empiresVain Empires by Brandilyn Collins (Goodreads | Amazon)


Six people arrive on a remote island–contestants in the “reality show of the century,” Dream Prize. The winner will be the person who learns the most facts about the others and gains the most viewer votes. Sounds simple. But the three men and three women soon discover nothing is as expected.

They are alone on the island. Cameras surround them, filming twenty-four hours a day. And their challenge? Discover which of the Seven Deadly Sins each contestant, including themselves, represents. Turns out each person has a damning secret–one that could ruin his or her life. Those secrets are about to be revealed on live television.

And this is only the beginning of the twists in the game.


when death draws nearWhen Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks  (Goodreads | Amazon)


Forensic artist Gwen Marcey is between jobs when she accepts temporary work in Pikeville, Kentucky—a small town facing big-city crime. But before Gwen can finish her first drawing of the serial rapist who is on the loose, the latest witness vanishes. Just like all the others.Gwen suspects a connection between the rapist and the “accidental” deaths that are happening around town, but the local sheriff has little interest in her theories. When her digitally-obsessed teenage daughter joins her, Gwen turns her attention to a second assignment: going undercover in a serpent-handling church. She could get a handsome reward for uncovering illegal activity—a reward she desperately needs, as it seems her breast cancer has returned. But snakes aren’t the only ones ready to kill. Can Gwen uncover the truth—and convince anyone to believe her—before she becomes a victim herself?

In a thrilling race against time, When Death Draws Near plunges us into cold-case murders, shady politics, and a den of venomous suspects.


the cantaloupe theifThe Cantaloupe Thief by Deb Richardson-Moore (Goodreads | Amazon)


Branigan Powers knows a good story when she sees one–and the ten–year–old cold case of wealthy Alberta Grambling Resnick’s murder definitely makes the cut. Resnick was stabbed in her home after she let it slip that she was planning to change her will. There are plenty of suspects in the death of the matriarch of the town’s founding family, but the killer has never been caught.

Now Branigan must do some serious digging to get her story. She knows the town’s homeless community might have seen something; she also knows that the local cops wouldn’t have thought of questioning these often–invisible people. There’s a big problem, though; as Branigan starts digging, the homeless start dying. When her twin brother, a long–time addict, gets involved, the consequences of her investigation may hit a little too close to home.


secrets of sloane houseSecrets of Sloane House by Shelley Shepard Gray (Goodreads | Amazon)


Rosalind Perry has left her family’s rural farm in Wisconsin to work as a housemaid at Sloane House, one of the most elegant mansions in Gilded Age Chicago. However, Rosalind is not there just to earn a living and support her family-she’s at Sloane House determined to discover the truth about her sister’s mysterious disappearance.

Reid Armstrong is the handsome heir to a silver fortune. However, his family is on the periphery of Chicago’s elite because their wealth comes from “new money” obtained from successful mining. Marriage to Veronica Sloane would secure his family’s position in society-the lifelong dream of his ailing father.

When Reid begins to realize that Rosalind’s life may be in danger, he stops thinking of marriage prospects and concentrates on helping Rosalind. Dark things are afoot in Chicago and, he fears, in Sloane House. If he’s not vigilant, Rosalind could pay the price.


always watching easonAlways Watching by Lynette Eason (Goodreads | Amazon)


The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have more than just skill and prowess in common–they’re also all women. When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians in order to protect his son.

But when Wade’s bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap. Olivia’s skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade’s stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him. Olivia has the feeling that she’s next on the list. And to complicate things even further, she realizes that her heart may be in as much danger as her client.

Bestselling author and fan favorite Lynette Eason drops readers right into the action in this fast-paced new series with a unique twist. Readers will love these strong female characters who put it all on the line to save lives.


cold shotCold Shot by Dani Pettrey (Goodreads | Amazon)


In college, Griffin McCray and his three best friends had their lives planned out. Griffin and Luke Gallagher would join the Baltimore PD. Declan Gray would head to the FBI and Parker Mitchell would go on to graduate school as a crime scene analyst. But then Luke vanished before graduation and their world–and friendships–crumbled.

Now Griffin is a park ranger at Gettysburg, having left life as a SWAT-team sniper when a case went bad. The job is mostly quiet–until the day he captures two relic hunters uncovering skeletal remains near Little Round Top. Griffin just wants the case to go away, but charming forensic anthropologist Finley Scott determines that the body is modern–a young social justice lawyer missing since spring–and all evidence points to the work of an expert sniper. When FBI agent Declan Gray takes over the case, past and present collide. Griffin soon realizes he’ll need to confront some of the darkest days of his life if he–and those he cares about–are going to escape a downward spiral of murder that crosses continents.


gone without a traceGone Without A Trace by Patricia Bradley (Goodreads | Amazon)


The past is repeating itself–and time is running out

It’s been more than two years since homicide detective Livy Reynolds’s cousin disappeared from Logan Point. Unlike most people in her hometown, Livy has never believed that Robyn left voluntarily. When Dallas private investigator Alex Jennings contacts her concerning a senator’s missing granddaughter who was last seen in Logan Point, Livy notices eerie similarities between the two disappearances. With self-doubt plaguing her and an almost instant dislike of the self-assured PI, she’s finding this investigation an uphill battle. But with the prospect of finding her cousin on the horizon, she’ll have to find a way to work with Alex–before it’s too late.

Award-winning author Patricia Bradley keeps you on the edge of your seat with a case–and a relationship–that is anything but certain.


secrets of crittenden county ebookThe Secrets of Crittenden County series by Shelley Shepard Gray (Goodreads | Amazon)

The Secrets of Crittenden County series , begins with Missing, a poignant and compelling tale of an unlikely romance born of tragedy, set in Kentucky Amish country. When the shocking death of a young man rocks a quiet Amish community, the dead man’s former girlfriend and his “Englisher” best friend find themselves murder suspects. But they are strengthened by their faith, and by an unanticipated love that awakens.

The series continues with The Search, a page-turning romance novel that’s tinged with mystery. Gray returns once more to a small devout community rocked by the  murder of a young, black sheep neighbor. An unforgettable tale of romance, faith, and duty, The Search tells the story of a love that blossoms between a young woman who’s guarding shocking secrets about the victim, and the dedicated “Englisher” homicide detective who has arrived from the outside world to investigate.

In the final book, Found, Gray’s unforgettable trilogy of what happens when a terrible crime that strikes a close knit Amish community comes full-circle, “Englisher” Detective Luke Reynolds discovers the identity of Perry Borntrager’s killer and the community must come to terms with the surprising revelation. It’s a remarkably heartwarming conclusion to this series, and readers will not be disappointed.


when-a-heart-stopsWhen a Heart Stops by Lynette Eason (Goodreads | Amazon)

A killer’s deadly game needs new players . . . but someone’s about to change the rules

As a medical examiner, Serena Hopkins is used to dealing with death. But that doesn’t make it any easier when she’s called to the eerie scene of a murder–especially when Serena realizes that she knows the victim. Nearly as unnerving is the presence of FBI agent Dominic Allen, her childhood crush.

As evidence mounts and points to a serial killer with disturbingly familiar methods, Serena and Dominic must work to find a pattern and stop the killings before the murderer strikes again. And when Serena’s own life seems at stake, she must decide if the secret she has been keeping has put her next on the killer’s hit list. Can she trust Dominic with the truth before it’s too late?


the inn at ocean's edgeThe Inn at Ocean’s Edge by Colleen Coble (Goodreads | Amazon)

In 1989, Claire Dellamare disappeared from her own fourth birthday party at the Hotel Tourmaline on the island of Folly Shoals, Maine. She showed up a year later at the same hotel, with a note pinned to her dress but no explanation. Nobody knows where Claire spent that year—and until now, Claire didn’t even know she had ever been missing.

But when Claire returns to the Hotel Tourmaline for a business meeting with her CEO father, disturbing memories begin to surface . . . despite her parents’ best efforts to keep them forgotten.

Luke Rocco lost his mother under equally mysterious circumstances—at the same time Claire disappeared. After a chance encounter reveals the unlikely link between them, Claire and Luke set out together to uncover the truth about what happened that fateful year.

With flashbacks swimming just beneath her consciousness and a murderer threatening her safety, Claire’s very life depends on unscrambling her past . . . even if her family refuses to acknowledge it. Someone—maybe everyone—is hiding something from Claire Dellamare, and it will cost her everything to drag the truth out into the light.


As an extra special bonus, I wanted to mention two authors who consistently have really well-written villains.

Irene Hannon headshot    terri blackstock

Irene Hannon & Terri Blackstock

I highly recommend any of their suspense novels!!

What about you? What are some mysteries and/or villains that kept you guessing? (No spoilers please!)

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27 responses to “Top Ten Tuesday: Villains Who Kept Me Guessing

  1. Ooooh Always Watching is on my TBR. I can’t think of any off the top of my head. Most villains just make me want to tackle them and purse whomp them…haha

  2. Rebecca Maney

    Michelle’ Griep’s new book “The Captive Heart” has a wonderful redeemed rogue, Samuel Heath, who stole my heart without much effort. And yes, Vance Everstone is a classic!

  3. Toni Shiloh

    Lynette definitely has great villians and I love the special missions of Irene Hannon and Terri Blackstock. I’m still waiting to figure out who did it in If I Run.
    And Vance Everstone….you took the words (phenomenal) right out of my mouth.

  4. Andrea Stephens

    Great list Carrie! How do you keep track of it all? You must have extra superpowers beyond reading. I haven’t read many mystery/suspense books recently.
    Not technically not in the mystery/suspense category there was some mystery in Elizabeth Camden’s Until the Dawn, Quentin Vandermark was kind of a villain. As was his father, but both were redeemed in the end.

  5. I like your take on the topic. I had to do a little research to find some more villains to fill out my list.

    And OH MY GOODNESS! So excited TCM is out today! What a great book and great series. I should reread those right now 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier!

  6. Great list! So many amazing thrillers on this list – including by Lynette Eason and Dani Pettrey. Also, I’m now sure I’ve read the novel you featured by Carrie, but I loved the mystery I did read from her during last year’s INSPYs. 🙂

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