Cover Image: The Minotaur Sampler, Volume 4

The Minotaur Sampler, Volume 4

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Member Reviews

This was another interesting Minotaur Sampler that was great to read to get a taste of all the books coming out. This had sneak peeks at 6 thrillers and a couple of them sound pretty interesting to me and can't wait to check them out more after they come out. The two books I was more interested in from the sampler were Pay Dirt Road and The Resting Place. Really all the books have an aspect that I find interesting. I always enjoy reading the samplers to learn more about books coming out from Minotaur and being able to discover new books and authors. Thanks so much to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press - Minotaur Books for letting me have a chance to read and check out this sampler. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I love a good thriller and ALL four teases sound so good! Each one left me wanting more chapters. I definitely put a preorder in for Alex Findlay but it was hard to chose which one!
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Minotaur really has a slew of irresistible novels coming out this coming season. They first three are my favorites in the sampler.

“A Flicker In The Dark” , by Stacey Williamham is a debut novel. I have already read this novel and gave it 5*. It’s a great thriller with an unreliable narrator and a psychopath or two. I highly recommend this one. Feel free to read my review for more of my feelings about this one!!

“The Night Shift”, by Alex Finlay was an automatic request for me. I absolutely love this author’s writing and “Every Last Fear” was one of my top reads last year. The murder settings of a Blockbuster video and an ice cream shop, set in a small town sounds unique. I have already been approved for this one, so I read just a snippet of this novel.

“Under Skeleton Lock and Key” by Gigi Pandian is the first of what looks like a very unique series. The Secret Staircase Construction company specializes in creating unique spaces in homes with hidden staircases, sliding doors and any number of unique nooks and crannies, perfect for readers, or those who have something to hide!!  I’ve requested this one.

“The Shadow House” by Anne Downes is the story of a mother who is running from something, she is looking for a place of safety for herself and her children. She finds Pine Ridge which looks like it will be the perfect refuge. The inhabitants are welcoming and the setting of the surrounding mountains is beautiful. But there are secrets hidden here and Alex isn’t sure whether they will be safe here. This one has a creepy, “something bad is coming” vibe. I’ve requested this one!!

“The Resting Place” is a standalone novel which is stated to be mystery/horror. Since I’m a wimp and don’t like horror, I didn’t read this part of the sampler!!

“Pay Dirt Road” by Samantha Jayne Allen. This is another debut novel. The main protagonist, Annie McIntyre has recently graduated from college and is home for the summer. She doesn’t know what her next move will be but she is waitressing to make money while she contemplates the future. Her supposedly retired grandfather manages to get her involved in the family PI business when a fellow waitress goes missing. This is very well written but sounded a bit too much like something I’ve read before. I’ll probably pass on this one.

It’s always fun to get a taste of what is coming from Minotaur, this is going to be a great Fall/Winter of reading!

I received an ARC of this sampler from the publisher through NetGalley.
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The Minotaur Sampler, Volume 4 is a collection of 6 fast paced thrillers. Each book capturing your attention and leaving you wanting more. 

I enjoy sampler readers. It allows the reader to discover new authors and stories without having to purchase the entire book. Samplers save readers a ton of time in deciding whether a story is for them or not. I love how this is a blend of standalone stories and firsts in a series. I really enjoyed A Flicker in the Dark, The Resting Place, and The Night Shift. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.
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This is the best collection of samplers to date. I'm excited about each of the books and even requested a few after reading the sample.  Each of the stories is so unique, so I listed my thoughts individually:

A Flicker in the Dark pulls you right in. The descriptions are beautifully poetic.  The story is compelling. And Karin Slaughter's blurb on the cover intrigues me as I love surprising twists.  I can't wait to read the whole book.  

The Night Shift - I love the prologue setting. I remember the tension surrounding that New Year so well, so to start a thriller with that tension starts the book out on a high note.  Just this tiny sample sent chills down my spine more than once.

Under Lock and Skeleton Key - I love the cover, that the main character is a stage magician, and the overall premise.  It is just so fun but at the same time thrilling, and this sample demonstrates all of that.

The Resting Place uses prosopagnosia to build tension, which is both intriguing and scary.  I read another book recently that had the disorder as a plot device, and it was excellent.  It gives me hope that this one will be as well.

The Shadow House has a creepy cover.  The setting is very intriguing- an ecovillage in Australia and is written in an atmospheric way that completely envelops the reader. I've never heard of ecovillages before.  The descriptions help pull you in by setting a very realistic scene that most people can relate to. 

The cover of Pay Dirt Road is different than any I've seen before, and I like it. It intrigues me before I even know what the story is about.  I also like that the blurb brings in Sue Grafton's series as a comparison. I enjoyed her books very much, so it gets me in the mood to enjoy this one as well.  The first-person narration helps make Annie a relatable character from the first page, and the descriptions paint the scene in a way that I could experience it with all of my senses.

There is genuinely a book or two (or more if you love thrillers) here for every reader of the genre. This is an excellent sampler.
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I am so grateful for this sample! I can not wait to read these books once they are available., These sneak peaks left me ready to pick these books up! If they are half as good as the previews, I am already excited for them. Thank you Netgalley for this opportunity,
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Wow! What a great way to sample books before buying! Thank you Minotaur Books for these six samples.  I will say the one I am most excited about is The Night Shift,  I really enjoyed the authors last book, Every Last Fear, so I am definitely excited about this one!  

I read The Lost Village by Camilla Sten, and I was not impressed, but I always like to give a second chance before writing it off as just not for me. 

A Flicker In The Dark has the perfect eerie cover which is what first drew me to the book.  Debut authors always excite me because if they can crush it with a debut, I'm all in for whatever they write next.

Under Lock and Skelton Key started off good, and I'm excited to see what it goes next especially since it is the first book in the series debut!

The Shadow House - remote settings always give me the creeps, and this is a new to me author I'm excited to continue with.

Pay Dirt Road - Friday Night Lights meets Mare of Easttown.  This is the sentence in the synopsis that pulled me in and I can't wait to read more.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Minotaur Books for this fourth edition sampler of six novels due to be published in the winter of 2022. Some are standalone novels; others are first in a series. All are well done, but naturally, some intrigued me more than others. Here’s a quick review of each, taken in order of appearance. I received this sampler as an ARC in return for my honest, unbiased review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

First, A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham, gets off to a great start in these introductory chapters. When Chloe Davis was 12, something terrible happened in her town and in her life. Twenty years later she’s a psychologist in Baton Rouge and is engaged to be married. She’s a flawed character with anxiety issues and likely chemical dependency problems as well. This is a debut work of fiction that grabbed me enough to make me want to read more.

Next is The Night Shift by Alex Finlay. I wasn’t crazy about the writing style, but I found the story line to be quite intriguing. The author piles layer upon layer of connections in his plot, beginning with the attack of four teenage employees of a Blockbuster Video store on New Year’s Eve in 1999. One girl somehow manages to survive. A decade and a half later, a similar attack occurs in the very same town. Again, one – only one – makes it out alive. There are other “coincidences” as well. I was sad to see this teaser end as it has the potential to be a winner.

The third story is Under Lock and Key by Gigi Pandian, featuring a young female magician named Tempest. She is trying to weather a career storm. She has moved back home and has been offered a job with her family, whose business involves building secret passages and the like. Her mother disappeared mysteriously a number of years before; Tempest has always assumed that she committed suicide by drowning. What’s the real story? After being offered a job that does not meet her needs or abilities, Tempest comes to believe that perhaps she is needed in the family business after all. This story piqued my interest, but I wasn’t entirely enthralled with it. It’s not quite my cup of tea, and it’s not too hard for me to pass up.

The Resting Place by Camilla Sten, translated by Alexandra Fleming, is the fourth in this collection. Eleanor, “don’t call me ‘Victoria,’” has prosopagnosia, which is commonly called face blindness. It is a medical condition resulting in the inability to recognize faces. When she arrives at her grandmother’s home for dinner, she finds her grandmother Vivianne lying on the floor, covered in blood. Sometime after Vivianne’s death, Eleanor, her boyfriend Sebastian, and her aunt meet at a property where her grandmother and aunt grew up, where her grandfather suddenly died. Who killed Vivianne? What happened to her husband many years before? I did not connect to Eleanor at all, and the story did not draw me in. 3 stars so far, not enough to make me want to continue.

Equally uninteresting to me was the next one, Shadow House , by Anna Downe. Alex has moved to a unique, remote community with her 14-year-old son Ollie and infant daughter. Ollie has a big-time teenage attitude and is resentful about the move. Alex has secrets, and so does their new neighborhood, apparently. The difficult mother-son relationship is unpleasant, but well written. Neither character seems too likable early on. I was not really engaged with this story either, at least not enough to want to read the entire novel.

Did I hit paydirt with the last entry? Close! Pay Dirt Road by Samantha Jayne Allen is set in a Texas oil town where Annie is a 22-year-old waitress. Annie is worried when another waitress goes missing after a rowdy party. After learning of her co-worker’s disappearance, she’s offered a job by Mary-Pat, an investigator who worked with her grandpa Leroy and her dad, who were both lawmen. She thinks it will be a clerical job, but with her grandfather involved, could it turn out to be more? I was drawn to Annie, her cousin Nikki, and their “down home” lifestyle. This could prove to be a really good story, and I’m definitely interested in reading more.

Overall rating 4.3 rounded to 4
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Loved each segment.  Look forward to reading every book from start to finish.  

What a great way to get to know the flavor of the book. More than wets one’s appetite.
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It's hard to give an actual review for a sampler, but I will say that this grouping of books is very intriguing. I am especially eager to continue reading the novels here by Finlay, Sten, and Downes. 

Thank you for allowing me to pursue these excerpts. Looks like an exciting line up!
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The Minotaur Sampler, Volume 4, each book gives you just enough tease to make you want to read the rest of the book!  It’s a sure fire way to make me get the books I’m most interested in to read all the way through.
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This was an amazing sampler pack. I found myself loving each story for what they had to offer. 

The Night shift played on nostalgia with its blockbuster reference yet had me turning pages to see what happened next. I am eager for this release to see how all the characters get together and interact. The killer in this story seems absolutely terrifying.

Under Lock and Key had me longing to read more stories by Indian authors.I loved the food references and the addition of magicians. This is definitely a new read for me but I found myself wondering where the story was headed. The best friends coming back together really warmed my heart. Can't wait to see where this winding staircase of literature takes us.

The Shadow House was full of mystery and intrigue. The main characters situation is a bit bothersome as it seems that she is running away from abuse. Though her new found "home" seems different to say the least. I definitely felt cultish vibes from this story. The ending of thr 4th chapter provided really set up the rest of the book. Really making me want to read more.

The Resting Place had all the feelings of loss/love/murder and Family secrets. The setting of this tale is fantastically mysterious. If you love books where characters are left haunting houses this will be right up your alley. Can't wait to see what we learn about this family.

A Flicker in the Dark is a sad and enthralling story, which opens up on the theme of never really knowing who you can trust. The characters are real and their flaws make them easy to connect to. The first few chapters really set the scene. We see two characters meet and we get a glimpse at how they interact even after the tragedy that has hit our main characters. I can't wait to read more and see how she gets ripped into the new case.

Pay Dirt Raod is a book with a lovely western setting and a crime unfolding. The settings are detailed and the descriptions make you feel like you are there. If you love a story full of characters this is for you. So far it seems very character based with lots of interaction.
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I read these excerpts and immediately asked for each of the books while adding them to my wish list on several sites so I can read and own them.  I don't know if I can say more than that.
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Another great set of books to look forward to from Minotaur books! I'm so excited to see Alex Finlay again, I absolutely loved his last book. They all sound so exciting and I can't wait to read them. Thank you to Minotaur books for this awesome sampler and Netgalley.
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So happy to be able to preview a few different books that will be coming out in the next few months, including some by authors I have not heard about up to this point, plus one of my more anxiously anticipated books by Alex Finlay. The new series by Gigi Pandian is now also on my to be read list!
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This sampler provides the beginning chapters of six upcoming mysteries/thrillers.  I enjoyed the  samples from each of these novel so much that I now have six more books added to my TBR.   All of these samples definitely piqued my interest, but I especially enjoyed the samples from A Flicker in the Dark, The Shadow House and Pay Dirt Road.  I anxiously await the publication of each of these novels.
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I am so excited for these new upcoming titles! I loved Anna Downes and Alex Finley’s first books. I received Arcs for this of those and I just loved them both.

I participated in the cover reveal for a Flicker in the Dark and I’ve been wanted to read that book since then!!
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Thank you to NetGalley and Minotaur for the chance to read these samples!

I enjoy reading these samples even though I am quite picky about my mysteries! Sadly, I still haven't captured the magical thrill of reading the samples of FINLAY DONOVAN and EVERY LAST FEAR in subsequent samplers, but I'll continue to give it a go!

A FLICKER IN THE DARK by Stacy Willingham - The concept didn't spark my interest, and I feel like I've read this kind of "complicated protagonist became a psychologist in response to their trauma, but then has to face it again" before in THE SURVIVORS by Robert Palmer.

THE NIGHT SHIFT by Alex Finlay - I was hooked from the opening of EVERY LAST FEAR and completely obsessed because I had no idea what was going to happen next. This one, however, with the "serial killer resurfaces" element, again I just feel like I've seen it before and I'm not interested. I do enjoy the multiple POVs slowly piecing together the puzzle, though, so I might pick it up from the library.

UNDER LOCK & SKELETON KEY by Gigi Pandian - The locked-room element in the cover copy caught my eye, but I was frustrated by the fact that we don't find the body in the sample, the "wacky hijinks" tone, and the very heavy-handed, repeated references to this "family curse" that our heroine "doesn't believe in....or does she?"

THE RESTING PLACE by Camilla Sten - The cover copy is chilling -- staring in the face of a killer but not knowing who it is because you have face blindness? eek! -- and it's a little too creepy for me, even though the pace is a little leisurely in this sample.

THE SHADOW HOUSE by Anna Downes - I really detest creepy, nonsensical prologues, so I got off on the wrong foot here. Add kids to the mix and I was completely checked out.

PAY DIRT ROAD by Samantha Jayne Allen - This one also didn't catch my interest, because the mystery doesn't kickstart in this sample, and because the heroine is so young.

So ultimately, nothing caught my eye this time around but that doesn't mean I'll stop gobbling up these Minotaur samplers!
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Most of us have time constraints in our lives with the need to maximize our available reading time.

Which is why I appreciate the opportunity to preview books before requesting, borrowing, or purchasing.

How a book is written makes a big difference as to whether I enjoy it or not. It’s difficult to explain why I absolutely love one book and another similar book doesn’t suit. I don’t often know until I’m partially through and then want to put it aside.

I enjoyed all the entries here and have continued on with A Flicker in the Dark and am eagerly awaiting Night Shift. I’d already been aware of those two and had them on my To Read list so the excerpts cemented my decision.

However, I didn’t know much about the other four.  I added Under Lock and Skeleton Key which seemed like an interesting (to me) cozy.   The Final Resting Place is in question because I just read a book dealing with prosopagnosia although I enjoyed reading the sample here.

The Shadow House also appears promising (and scary) so I added that one in addition to Pay Dirt Road.  

Pay Dirt Road especially appeals to me with “an unlikely private investigator searching for a missing waitress”.  Of the six entries, the small town atmosphere stood out the most for me.

Although sampling isn’t a sure thing, I found it helpful and I hope this is a trend.

Thank you to Macmillan and Minotaur Books, NetGalley, and the six authors for my opportunity to read partials of their books.
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All the samples are pretty good. Each is a couple chapters of the different books. I will probably go and get the full books for a few of them.
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