Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Dirty Secrets Club by Meg Gardiner

Jo Beckett is a forensic psychiatrist who works with the San Francisco Police Department performing psychological autopsies in cases where the cause of death is not clear. When successful prosecutor Callie Harding drives her BMW off an overpass, the cops aren't sure if it's suicide or murder. Her passenger, Geli Meyer, is seriously injured and isn't talking. Jo begins to delve into Callie's personal life, along with inside information from the police that her "accident" might be connected to some other high profile deaths in the past few weeks. It's a race against time as Lt. Amy Tang from the SFPD tells Jo that they have 48 hours until another person dies.... The Dirty Secrets Club is a fast-paced story with a strong female main character who has scars of her own. It also has touches of humor mixed in with a few graphic scenes. A good summer read that will be published in mid-June.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

In 1946, Juliet Ashton is on a book tour when she realizes that her heart really isn't in the new book she's writing. When she gets a letter from Dawsey Adams, a man who lives on the British island of Guernsey, telling her that he has in his possession a book she once owned and how much he loves it, it sets in motion a life-changing adventure for her. Juliet and Dawsey start up a correspondence and she begins to learn all about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which was started to protect its members (who were illegally roasting a pig) from the Germans who occupied the island during World War II. Juliet becomes so enchanted with the inhabitants of Guernsey that she corresponds not only with Dawsey, but Society members Isola, Amelia and Eben, as well. She also learns all about life under the Nazis. The novel is at times humorous, other times heartbreaking. A charming gem of a book, one to treasure and recommend to friends. Two other novels set in England during World War II that have a similar feel are Our Yanks by Margaret Mayhew and Land Girls by Angela Huth. It will be published in July.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Darker Side by Shirley Wells

Jill Kennedy is a forensic psychologist who stopped working with the police after a particularly traumatic case. She's drawn into partnering with them again after Martin Hayden, a local teenager, goes missing. Jill's former live-in boyfriend, DCI Max Trentham, is heading up the investigation and his presence causes her feelings for him to resurface--both love and anger, since he cheated on her. Jill's expertise in reading people comes in handy, since Martin wasn't that likable and his family kept to themselves. Then another, particularly brutal crime takes place. Will Max and his team be able to piece all the clues together with Jill's help? A Darker Side is the second book in the Kennedy/Trentham series. I really liked it and look forward to reading the first. A British police procedural in the style of Cynthia Harrod-Eagles and Jo Bannister.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bound by Sally Gunning

Alice Cole is seven in 1756, when she makes the trip across the ocean from Britain to America. It's a tough journey for Alice and her family especially when her mother and two brothers die en route. Her father then sells her to John Morton as his servant until she's eighteen in order to pay his debts. Alice has a good life with Mr. Morton and his daughter, Nabby, who's three years older than Alice. Her life takes a turn for the worse when she's fifteen and moves with Nabby and her new husband, Emery Verley. Verley is an evil man and Alice really has no choice except to run away, even though she's breaking the law. She ends up in Cape Cod and is taken in by a widow who seems to know that Alice has had a hard life recently. Another of the widow's boarders is Ebenezer Freeman, who is very involved in pre-revolutionary politics. In a time of tumult and injustice, will Alice be able to overcome her circumstances? I enjoyed this historical novel about a young women's life in colonial times. It reminded me of the novels of Sandra Dallas and Lily by Cindy Bonner. Bound is also connected to Gunning's last novel, The Widow's War which was about the widow and Ebenezer Freeman.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Don't Tell a Soul by David Rosenfelt

Tim Wallace is still recovering from his grief over his wife's death when his two best friends coax him to their favorite bar to celebrate New Year's Eve. He gets the shock of his life when a man confesses to a murder and tells Tim where the victim is buried. The man's admission sends Tim to the police, but instead of being seen as a good Samaritan, Tim is suddenly a suspect and his life will never be the same, especially since he was also being investigated for his wife's death. Soon, he is fighting for his freedom, not knowing whom he can trust. Then it appears that Tim is really just a small part of a much larger plan.... Don't Tell a Soul is the first stand-alone novel by David Rosenfelt, author of the Andy Carpenter series. His last book in the series, Play Dead, combined his series character with a fast-paced story. In this new book, he writes a novel similar to Harlan Coben, Jeff Abbott's thrillers, and Linwood Barclay's No Time for Goodbye. Don't Tell a Soul will be published next month.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Twenty-seven-year-old Josey Cirrini lives with her demanding mother in Bald Slope, North Carolina. Paying penance for being a horrible child, she is there for her widowed mother's every need. Unfortunately, this means she's made the choice of having no life for herself and she finds bits of happiness by hoarding sweets in her closet and talking to her mailman, Adam, every day. When Della Lee, a local waitress, sets up residence in Josey's closet (yes, her closet) things begin to change. Della Lee confronts Josey about her insular life and, as a sort of fairy godmother, helps Josey become friends with Chloe Finely, who's reeling from her boyfriend Jake's infidelity. Coincidentally, Jake's best friend just happens to be Adam. Will love prevail for the couples? The Sugar Queen contains many of the same elements and themes that made Allen's first novel, Garden Spells so popular (quirky characters, elements of magic, love, passion, and family relationships). I enjoyed the book, but was a bit disappointed that it was so similar to Garden Spells.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Antiques to Die For by Jane Cleland

Josie Prescott owns an antiques business in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Her life is going well, both personally and professionally, except that once in a while someone that she's aquainted with is murdered. This time it's her friend Rosalie Chaffee who is found drowned. Rosalie was earning her Ph.D., ghostwriting a biography of Gerry Fine (CEO of Heyer's, a local business) and raising her twelve-year-old sister, Paige. Josie finds that there are lots of suspects, since Rosalie had dated several men, may have been doing some valuable research and had told Paige about something that they owned that was worth a lot of money. Unravelling the mysteries of Rosalie's life along with running Prescott's Antiques, Auctions, and Appraisals keeps Josie almost too busy. Will she be able to uncover her friend's killer and provide closure for both herself and Paige? In addition, Paige's situation reminds Josie of losing her own mother at a young age, adding to the urgency. With Antiques to Die For, Cleland is back in good form after the disappointing Deadly Appraisal. Her mix of a likable main character along with the information about antiques is a winner.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fidelity by Thomas Perry

Emily Kramer knows immediately that something is wrong when she wakes up one morning and her husband, Phil, is not asleep next to her. Her worst fears are confirmed when the police tell her that he's been murdered. To make the situation even more distressing, Emily discovers that Phil has drained both the couple's personal funds and his private detective agency's accounts. Emily realizes that she must try and keep the agency open with help from Phil's employees, especially Ray Hall. Emily finds the going hard at first because it seems that Phil was keeping secrets from everyone close to him. Ray, though, tries to aid her in finding out why Phil was killed. What neither of them know is that the same man who murdered Phil has been hired to silence Emily, too. Killer-for-hire Jerry Hobart is on Emily's trail, but is there some way that she can outwit him to stay alive? Fidelity reminded me of the novels of Harlan Coben and Lee Child.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Genius by Jesse Kellerman

Ethan Muller owns an art gallery in New York. One day he gets a phone call from Tony Wexler, his father's closest friend, telling him that he's found some amazing drawings in an abandoned apartment that Ethan's father owns. Ethan, too, thinks the art is incredible, and moves it to his gallery to mount a show. Ethan spends a bit of time trying to find the artist, Victor Cracke, but instead becomes obsessed with the number of drawings that Victor left behind and what they possibly mean. Ethan is then contacted by a former cop and it looks like the drawings might have something to do with boys who were murdered years ago. Is Victor a killer and will he ever be found? I enjoyed The Genius, despite some slower moving parts. With his three novels, Kellerman never writes the same kind of book twice and that is one reason why I look forward to reading what he publishes next.