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Thicker Than Water

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It was called a haven for runaway teens. In truth, it was a nightmare, one that ended in fiery violence sixteen years ago. Or so its survivors believed… Syracuse news anchor Julie Jones is afraid. Her long-dead past was resurrected when a blackmailer threatened to expose secrets that could destroy her. Then the man was found dead—his throat cut with a knife from Julie' It was called a haven for runaway teens. In truth, it was a nightmare, one that ended in fiery violence sixteen years ago. Or so its survivors believed… Syracuse news anchor Julie Jones is afraid. Her long-dead past was resurrected when a blackmailer threatened to expose secrets that could destroy her. Then the man was found dead—his throat cut with a knife from Julie's own kitchen. Now a new, faceless enemy wants more than money. This time Julie stands to lose the most precious thing of all—her teenage daughter, Dawn. Julie finds herself with one unlikely ally, Sean MacKenzie. A journalist with a flair for the sensational, Sean covers the worst humanity has to offer. Julie Jones is hiding something that terrifies her, and he's determined to find out what. He just can't decide whether his goal is to expose her or save her. Julie will do anything to protect her daughter. But someone else is watching, willing to do whatever it takes to avenge a past that cannot be forgotten. Originally published in 2005. Mordecai Young Series: Thicker Than Water (Book 1) Colder Than Ice (Book 2) Darker Than Midnight (Book 3)


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It was called a haven for runaway teens. In truth, it was a nightmare, one that ended in fiery violence sixteen years ago. Or so its survivors believed… Syracuse news anchor Julie Jones is afraid. Her long-dead past was resurrected when a blackmailer threatened to expose secrets that could destroy her. Then the man was found dead—his throat cut with a knife from Julie' It was called a haven for runaway teens. In truth, it was a nightmare, one that ended in fiery violence sixteen years ago. Or so its survivors believed… Syracuse news anchor Julie Jones is afraid. Her long-dead past was resurrected when a blackmailer threatened to expose secrets that could destroy her. Then the man was found dead—his throat cut with a knife from Julie's own kitchen. Now a new, faceless enemy wants more than money. This time Julie stands to lose the most precious thing of all—her teenage daughter, Dawn. Julie finds herself with one unlikely ally, Sean MacKenzie. A journalist with a flair for the sensational, Sean covers the worst humanity has to offer. Julie Jones is hiding something that terrifies her, and he's determined to find out what. He just can't decide whether his goal is to expose her or save her. Julie will do anything to protect her daughter. But someone else is watching, willing to do whatever it takes to avenge a past that cannot be forgotten. Originally published in 2005. Mordecai Young Series: Thicker Than Water (Book 1) Colder Than Ice (Book 2) Darker Than Midnight (Book 3)

30 review for Thicker Than Water

  1. 5 out of 5

    Anita

    Actual Rating: 2.5 Stars So, the truth is, this book is definitely no Brown and de Luca , and our heroine was definitely not as much fun as Rachel de Luca had been.  Obviously, it's a different book, and a different series, written at a different time--practically ten years prior.  But I can't deny that I had my hopes.  Sleep with the Lights On was fun and eerie and fast-paced and extremely entertaining. Thicker Than Water had promise and loads of potential--the story premise is intriguing, the Actual Rating: 2.5 Stars So, the truth is, this book is definitely no Brown and de Luca , and our heroine was definitely not as much fun as Rachel de Luca had been.  Obviously, it's a different book, and a different series, written at a different time--practically ten years prior.  But I can't deny that I had my hopes.  Sleep with the Lights On was fun and eerie and fast-paced and extremely entertaining. Thicker Than Water had promise and loads of potential--the story premise is intriguing, the characters were great... well, some of them were.  And while the beginning of the book was kind of rocky--dialogue felt a little stilted, events seemed kind of incredible, and back story might have been a bit rushed--the first half of the book found its footing and progressed at a wonderful pace. But then, we hit about halfway into the book, and everything sort of plateaus.  I mean, sure, a lot of important events start happening, but I couldn't help but feel that Julie's stubborn reluctance to confide in Sean about her secrets, even after everything that has happened, made the story drag out a bit.  I get the noble "this is my problem and I will deal with it" schtick that a lot of us love to call Noble Idiocy; Julie is motivated to keep her daughter safe, and doesn't want more people to know her secrets than necessary. But there comes a time in the story progression where a repetitive refusal to finally confide in someone who has proven his trustworthiness over and over again becomes a bit... well, vexing. I have no problems with Julie, as an individual.  I understand where she's coming from.  She's terrified for her daughter's safety and has taken it upon herself to keep the girl safe; she doesn't know who she can trust and so has lived a lifetime learning to trust only herself.  But there were at least three, or maybe four, or five, instances in the book where I think I gave a frustrated sigh because she wouldn't tell Sean anything about what was going on.  Even after she exclaims to him that, yes, she DOES indeed trust him. I mean, the guy keeps mum about a murder weapon, for crying out loud; and then he doesn't say a thing about finding out one of Julie's secrets about being part of Mordecai Young's Young Believers sixteen years ago. But every time he does something to help Julie, she becomes suspicious that he's just out for dirt on her so he can get his next big scoop.  Despite the fact that he'd had dozens of opportunities to out all of her secrets and has not done so. From a story progression standpoint, this keeps the story itself in a very stagnate place where nothing moves forward because our heroine isn't letting anything move forward.  And we all know that the refusal of one person to confide her secrets to the people who matter can readily cause more trouble in the upcoming conflict, maybe even get someone killed.  But even if not from a story structure standpoint, the fact that Julie's main goal is to protect her daughter could very easily backfire on her when she tries to take everything into her own hands, even though she has no effective solution to her problem that isn't simply just to run away. So maybe it should have been time to bring someone she can trust into her circle and see if there could be another way of achieving her needs for survival.  Because every time she adamantly refuses legitimate, professional aide in her plight, she digs herself deeper into another ditch... and well, I just kept expecting her to put herself, or her daughter, or even Sean into mortal peril... The conclusion of the book felt a little crazy and a little rushed... like, I had no idea, really, what was going on.  However, I DO kind of see the whole "full circle" of events transpiring.  It was just executed kind of poorly, to be honest. As for the romance... it wasn't terrible, truth be told.  Sean was a great character.  Julie, I didn't really relate with, even if I DO understand the reasons behind her actions.  The two DID have some great banter going on, and so as a partnership of co-anchors, they were great together.  As lovers... maybe not so much. I did adore Dawn, however, and loved her interaction with just about everyone.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    3 ½ stars. Book 1 in the Mordecai Young trilogy. 16 years ago a “religious” compound for runaway teens was raided by the FBI. The handful of survivors thought it was all over and that they could put the madness behind them… especially the leader who thought he was a profit for God… Mordecai Young. Julie Jones is a news anchor in Syracuse. Julie has a secret past that she is trying to keep hidden. Not only to protect herself, but her teenage daughter, Dawn. Luckily for Julie she has an unconvention 3 ½ stars. Book 1 in the Mordecai Young trilogy. 16 years ago a “religious” compound for runaway teens was raided by the FBI. The handful of survivors thought it was all over and that they could put the madness behind them… especially the leader who thought he was a profit for God… Mordecai Young. Julie Jones is a news anchor in Syracuse. Julie has a secret past that she is trying to keep hidden. Not only to protect herself, but her teenage daughter, Dawn. Luckily for Julie she has an unconventional hero in a journalist turned her co-anchor Sean MacKenzie. When they are not bantering and trying to out-scoop each other Sean is protecting not only Julie but Dawn as well. However, everyone is not who they seem to be. Julie will do anything to protect her daughter. But, at what cost? Maggie Shayne is without a doubt my all-time favorite author. I did have a few problems with this book though. There was a pretty sizeable lull in the middle of the book, which I struggled to get through. However, if you can get through that then you are greatly rewarded by an AMAZING and action-packed ending (even if a few things are predictable). The only other problem I had with this book is that I did not relate or really care about the heroine, Julie, too much. I liked Sean and Dawn and the other secondary characters… but I just never warmed up to Julie. If it wasn’t for those two things I would have given this book a solid 4 stars. I am looking forward to reading the next installment in this trilogy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rashika (is tired)

    It's only getting a 3 because the author actually did a great job with the romance. Other than that some of the things that happened were just unrealistic. (view spoiler)[ People who should have been dead coming back to life, you know the usual (hide spoiler)] It's only getting a 3 because the author actually did a great job with the romance. Other than that some of the things that happened were just unrealistic. (view spoiler)[ People who should have been dead coming back to life, you know the usual (hide spoiler)]

  4. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    Julie is hard working news anchorwoman and a single mom, Sean is a crack investigative reporter who always tries to out scoop Julie. After running into each other at an ugly murder scene, these two rivals end up as unlikely partners. This was the first Maggie Shayne book that I have read. I felt that there was a few times that a thesaurs could have been used better than it was but this book was very interesting. The suspense was there, a few suprises along the way, and the descriptions were vivid Julie is hard working news anchorwoman and a single mom, Sean is a crack investigative reporter who always tries to out scoop Julie. After running into each other at an ugly murder scene, these two rivals end up as unlikely partners. This was the first Maggie Shayne book that I have read. I felt that there was a few times that a thesaurs could have been used better than it was but this book was very interesting. The suspense was there, a few suprises along the way, and the descriptions were vivid. I am looking forward to the 2nd book of this series.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    Julie Jones' past escape from a cult comes back to haunt her present and threaten her and her daughter Dawn's lives. Her rival and news partner, Sean helps as things escalate out of control. This book took me FROEVER to read. Had good elements but was so predictable and slow I just struggled.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    This was a page turner. Basically: Jewel escaped a cultist's compound at the age of 17 with her best friend's baby and a few bags full of money. She thought everyone else, including her best friend and the cult leader, died that day. But sixteen years later, her past catches up with her when a man blackmails her -- and then ends up dead. At first, she's afraid the police will think she's the murderer, but as time goes on, she learns she has much more to fear. The book was a little predictable at This was a page turner. Basically: Jewel escaped a cultist's compound at the age of 17 with her best friend's baby and a few bags full of money. She thought everyone else, including her best friend and the cult leader, died that day. But sixteen years later, her past catches up with her when a man blackmails her -- and then ends up dead. At first, she's afraid the police will think she's the murderer, but as time goes on, she learns she has much more to fear. The book was a little predictable at times, although not in a way that made me want to stop reading, and at the end, I thought there was one thread that didn't get resolved. (And I realize this book sets up a sequel, but I actually think Jewel's story had one loose thread dangling.) This was a fun, quick, unchallenging read -- a thriller with a dash of romance.

  7. 4 out of 5

    bea

    I absolutely like this book. This is one of the few from the genre Romantic Thriller, and I was NOT disappointed! The beginning was not very credible, but you could actually be aware of the dangers they were in.The verbal sparring between Julie Jones and Sean MacKenzie, and their obvious sexual tension, provides light relief from the more serious aspects of the novel. Speaking of which, the originality of the cult storyline is really good! That was one of the most original plots I have encounter I absolutely like this book. This is one of the few from the genre Romantic Thriller, and I was NOT disappointed! The beginning was not very credible, but you could actually be aware of the dangers they were in.The verbal sparring between Julie Jones and Sean MacKenzie, and their obvious sexual tension, provides light relief from the more serious aspects of the novel. Speaking of which, the originality of the cult storyline is really good! That was one of the most original plots I have encountered. THE CHARACTERS: Julie - is a badass heroine. PLus, she's a TV reporter, which is what I wanna do when I grow up. Sean - is sarcastic & annoying at the surface, but is actually very caring deep down. And the subsequent drama surrounding Julie after sixteen years, sets the novel apart from others of the same genre. All in all, this was an epic page turner.

  8. 4 out of 5

    jenjn79

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Pretty good book. It was nice to know this storyline since it was referred to in the 3rd book. It had a good storyline that keeps you reading. You really want to know what happens with the characters and how things are going to end up. I can't say it was an absolutely fabulous book. I liked the 3rd one better, but it was definitely worth reading. And when you get to the end, you really have to read the 2nd book, because the complete storyline is left a bit unresolved at the end of the 1st one.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Erth

    now i am hooked. This was such a great, easy and creative book. i was hooked after the first page. The characters were easy to fall in love with and follow, along with the story. the author made the mental visions so easy and vivid of the surroundings and the characters actions felt so real. i would highly recommend this author and this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Neely Swob ursery

    Oh my God! If they licked their lips or said God one more time I was going to burn the book! Great writing except for those two things.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Reni

    Lost interest half way.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marsha Keeper Bookshelf

    Reviewed at Haunted Bookshelf It doesn’t matter if the story is another visit to the paranormal world or another romantic suspense, or even a lovely contemporary romance, there is one thing I know for certain… if it’s by Maggie Shayne I’m in for one heck of a story. (And I still contend that her Wings in the Night series is the best and my favorite all time ever paranormal romance series – and I don’t care how your vampires sparkle… nine don’t, unless it’s their burning embers in the dawn’s light Reviewed at Haunted Bookshelf It doesn’t matter if the story is another visit to the paranormal world or another romantic suspense, or even a lovely contemporary romance, there is one thing I know for certain… if it’s by Maggie Shayne I’m in for one heck of a story. (And I still contend that her Wings in the Night series is the best and my favorite all time ever paranormal romance series – and I don’t care how your vampires sparkle… nine don’t, unless it’s their burning embers in the dawn’s light.) Trust me, you don’t ever want to get on Rhiannon’s bad side… but that’s another story for another day. Thicker Than Water is the first story in the Mordecai Young series, followed by the spin-off series, Secrets of Shadow Falls. I’d highly recommend both series right off the bat for I’ve read them both, several times now, and they never cease to deliver gripping stories, interesting characters and intriguing plots. Julie Jones is holding onto a secret, desperately holding on for dear life. The reader knows what that secret is, yet we’re going along on a journey when everything in Julie’s life begins to rapidly fall apart. To say too much at this point would be giving away spoilers, and you really should figure out this puzzle for yourself. (Yes, the book has been out several years now, but there are always new readers discovering it.) Julie is about to see her greatest fear realized, discover that an adversary really is a knight in tarnished armor, find out that she really hasn’t been all that hidden all these years and fight with everything within her for her daughter against a mad man with a Messiah complex. Most of her life might have been based on lies, but she’s only beginning to realize just how many other lies she didn’t know about… and the results they bring will be life changing. If you love a good puzzle, if mysteries are your thing and you cannot turn away from a good hate-to love relationship… then you’re going to love Thicker Than Water. It’s gripping, tense, moments of lighthearted humor and a growing love… but most of all it’s a roller coaster ride of intense suspense up until the final page… and, perhaps, beyond. I was caught up in Julie, Sean and Dawn’s story, and I believe you would be, too. I own an original, now old and battered paperback copy of this story, and now a Kindle edition as well.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bev Walkling

    I always enjoy Maggie Shayne's books and this one was no exception. It had enough thrills and questions to keep me turning the pages and lends itself to a sequel without making me feel I have been trapped in a story with no ending.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Highly enjoyable, and kept me turning pages. This author was an inspiration to my own writing career. Always enjoyed her "Wings in the Night" series before finding the Mordicai Young Series. Still looking to read books 2 and 3.

  15. 4 out of 5

    NV

    Great Great story with characters I loved and hated! The storyline has twists and turns. The overall theme is a mother will protect her child at all costs.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Roxy Matthews

    What an amazing read. Characters that came alive and some background ones that become essential to the plot. Loved this book and am now a Maggie Shayne fan.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ann Oni

    I don't find liars heroic, so not for me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    DNF: I normally enjoy this author. Just could not get into this one.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Maggie's books are always good entertainment, and this one is no exception.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    I read this for a book club, I've been meaning to read something by Shayne and this gave me a great opportunity to do so. I ended up enjoying this book and I'm not sure if it's a series, but it felt like the last few pages left the story open ended. Maybe the author did continue, or was planning on doing so. The two main characters of the book are Julie Jones and Sean MacKenzie. They are both polar opposites, in their careers and in their temperaments so when they team up to help Julie and her da I read this for a book club, I've been meaning to read something by Shayne and this gave me a great opportunity to do so. I ended up enjoying this book and I'm not sure if it's a series, but it felt like the last few pages left the story open ended. Maybe the author did continue, or was planning on doing so. The two main characters of the book are Julie Jones and Sean MacKenzie. They are both polar opposites, in their careers and in their temperaments so when they team up to help Julie and her daughter Dawn, the sparks begin to fly. The chemistry between the two was explosive. Even when they were fighting, the sexual tension was high. I don't want to go into too much detail because it would ruin the story, but basically a secret from Julie's past is coming back to haunt her. She is terrified that something will happen to her, or even worse to her daughter. Sean is unable to keep his nose out of Julie's problems. He knows she's hiding something and he wants to know what it is. There were a lot of twists and turns throughout the book, some I expected and others I didn't even think about. There were a few characters that were very compelling and well written. One of the bad characters (name is purposely being withheld) was such a creep and extremely psychotic. I really hated this person from the beginning and as the details of the story emerged, I just hated this person even more. At times I found myself saying "Person X is a nutcase". The overall mystery drew me into the story, and then it kept me interested enough to finish the book. I will definitely read another book by this author.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    At first I wasn't sure what to make of the book. It started out with some intense crazy stuff going on that had me going. ..What??? But after that we fastforward to the future where Julie Jones formerly known as Jewel is being blackmailed. Suprise her blackmailer ends up dead and she is being framed for his murder. I'm not spoiling anything cuz all this takes place withing the first couple pages or chapters, went by fast. Ok so now the action, suspense and you guessed it secrets start spilling. At first I wasn't sure what to make of the book. It started out with some intense crazy stuff going on that had me going. ..What??? But after that we fastforward to the future where Julie Jones formerly known as Jewel is being blackmailed. Suprise her blackmailer ends up dead and she is being framed for his murder. I'm not spoiling anything cuz all this takes place withing the first couple pages or chapters, went by fast. Ok so now the action, suspense and you guessed it secrets start spilling. The story revolves mostly around Jewel or Julie trying to get out of this mess. Her most unlikely ally is her nemisis Sean. Julie has secrets that not only can destroy her life and carrer but take away the one thing she loves the most...her daughter Dawn. Story progresses gets intense now Julie has to tell Sean her secret; while still avoiding Jax the cop and protect Dawn as well as trying not to go to jaiil or die in the process. My thoughts... Well I read and finished it looking back like wow all that happpened in one book. I didn't expect the twist but I should have. I got that itchy feeling that told me something was gonna throw me for a loop. The ending grabbed my attension and made me want to jump straight to the next book just to find out what else the author has up her sleeve. Overall I thought it was a good story, characters were funny I loved thier by-play off each other. Sean and Julie had me cracking up so much. Even Dawn had her smart cracks.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    Extremely suspenseful, thrilling, exciting, riveting - a real page turner!! I'm heading off to the bookstore to grab some more of this author's novels!! From back cover: "It was called a haven for runaway teens. In truth, it was a nightmare, one that ended in fiery violence sixteen years ago. Or so its survivors believed... Syracuse news anchor Julie Jones is afraid. Her long-dead past was resurrected when a blackmailer threatened to expose secrets that could destroy her. Then the man was found dea Extremely suspenseful, thrilling, exciting, riveting - a real page turner!! I'm heading off to the bookstore to grab some more of this author's novels!! From back cover: "It was called a haven for runaway teens. In truth, it was a nightmare, one that ended in fiery violence sixteen years ago. Or so its survivors believed... Syracuse news anchor Julie Jones is afraid. Her long-dead past was resurrected when a blackmailer threatened to expose secrets that could destroy her. Then the man was found dead - his throat cut with a knife from Julie's own kitchen. Now a new, faceless enemy wants more than money. This time Julie stands to lose the most precious thing of all - her teenage daughter, Dawn. Julie finds herself with one unlikely ally, Sean MacKenzie. A journalist with a flair for the sensational, Sean covers the worst humanity has to offer. Julie Jones is hiding something that terrifies her, and he's determined to find out what. He just can't decide whether his goal is to expose her or save her. Julie will do anything to protect her daughter. But someone else is watching, willing to do whatever it takes to avenge a past that cannot be forgotten."

  23. 4 out of 5

    Olimpia

    Thicker Than Water is another well-written and enjoyable novel by Maggie Shayne. It’s a story about a man who thinks he’s the next Messiah and manipulates young runaways with lies and false promises of peace into a life of slavery. The government finally shuts him down but the deadly battle destroys everything including the young girls. One girl, Jewel, escapes taking with her, her best friend’s child, Dawn. Years later, someone appears to threaten the peace and life of Jewel (aka Julie) and Daw Thicker Than Water is another well-written and enjoyable novel by Maggie Shayne. It’s a story about a man who thinks he’s the next Messiah and manipulates young runaways with lies and false promises of peace into a life of slavery. The government finally shuts him down but the deadly battle destroys everything including the young girls. One girl, Jewel, escapes taking with her, her best friend’s child, Dawn. Years later, someone appears to threaten the peace and life of Jewel (aka Julie) and Dawn. Julie’s only recourse is to ask for help by her rivaled enemy and competitor, co-anchor – Sean. This is a fast paced and action packed novel filled with lots of suspense, mystery and twists & turns. A very hard to put down novel and highly recommended.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rhapsody

    I read this one long before I really started reading romance, so it just didn't click with me. I like romance novels that have the two protagonists thrown together almost from the start. Here, it was a while before they were interacting (as I recall), and also, I didn't quite like their chemistry. While I like some antagonism between the romantic leads, I felt that in this story, their rivalry and hostility sort of was fueling their romance in some weird way. I'm not into that kind of competitiv I read this one long before I really started reading romance, so it just didn't click with me. I like romance novels that have the two protagonists thrown together almost from the start. Here, it was a while before they were interacting (as I recall), and also, I didn't quite like their chemistry. While I like some antagonism between the romantic leads, I felt that in this story, their rivalry and hostility sort of was fueling their romance in some weird way. I'm not into that kind of competitive sexual tension.

  25. 4 out of 5

    ♆ BookAddict ✒ La Crimson Femme

    I keep looking at these books and wonder, where did my review go? I could have sworn I wrote reviews for these. But I am obviously mistaken. A fan of Ms. Shayne's vampire series, I tried her suspense ones. This one is still a bit out there with paranormal elements. Let's just say, Mordecai is creepy. This is gripping and enjoying. I couldn't stop reading. Ms. Shayne easily captures my attention.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Awsome is the one word I have to use on this one. It was so well written it drew me into the story completely as if I was living it. The cult aspect was a fantastic twist along the with danger posed. When I finished this book I was completely creeped out and spellbound. I can't wait to read the next one.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    This is the first book I’ve read by Shayne. I think she writes well. The plot, while not completely believable, kept the suspense going throughout the book. Some of the twists were predictable, but a couple weren’t quite what I expected. I liked the interaction between Julie and Sean. Overall, it was a good read for a book I randomly picked up.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jillian

    A tense love / hate relationship, a cult, a crazy madman, a murder and frame job all in one book. New Reporter Julie Jones formerly Jewel was part of a cult called Young Believers long ago. Her sassy interactions with Sean made me giggle. There a few twists near the end (one of which I didn't see coming) that will knock your socks off.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mar

    Reminded me of David Koresh and Waco. Picks up with the raid and burning of a "cult" location. Everyone is presumed to die in the raid, but burnings make identifying bodies tricky. 17 years later, it appears some may have survived...I liked the repartee between the romantic leads. Book is a decent thriller, but I don't need to read the other 2 in the series.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    This was a great mystery with just enough romance thrown in to keep it interesting. It moves at a quick enough pace that I didn't get tempted to turn to the end of the book to find out who did it.

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