Monday, December 30, 2013

Don't Ever Look Back by Daniel Friedman

Retired police detective Buck Schatz is crankier than usual as he spends his days doing heavy physical therapy while living in a retirement home. His slow descent into dementia is only making things worse. When a criminal named Elijah that Buck knew forty years ago visits and asks Buck to help him turn himself into the police for past crimes and to help shield Elijah from the people that are after him, Buck agrees. However, in meeting with Elijah, Buck recollects the case that brought them together in the first place and finds himself deeply involved, despite his own failing physical and mental health, in Elijah's criminal activities yet again. Don't Ever Look Back will be published in April.

15 Seconds by Andrew Gross

Plastic surgeon Henry Steadman is in Jacksonville, Florida when, in a case of mistaken identity, the police believe that he murdered a cop during a traffic stop.  Wanted by the authorities, Henry makes his way to a friend's house and finds him dead. Not knowing whom he can trust, he is on the run and completely in the dark about why he's in this situation. He decides to plead his innocence to Carrie Holmes, who's manning the phones for the police hotline. While the police believe Henry is a killer, Carrie decides on her own to follow some leads that Henry gives her and soon realizes that he could be innocent. Racing against time, Henry comes to the realization that he must hunt down the real killer...  A great read-alike for Harlan Coben.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths

In this sixth outing of the Ruth Galloway series, Ruth becomes immersed in the life of Jemima Green. Nicknamed "Mother Hook", Green became infamous in Victorian times for possibly murdering young children in her care. Ruth unearths bones that might be Jemima's and agrees to participate in a television program about her life. It doesn't hurt that a dishy American historian named Frank is doing the show also. Meanwhile, Ruth finds herself drawn into a child kidnapping case that hits especially close to home. The Outcast Dead is another satisfying outing with Ruth and her wide circle of friends. For readers who like series where the personal relationships of the characters are more prominent than the mystery. It will be published in March.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

No Man's Nightingale by Ruth Rendell

When vicar Sarah Hussain is found murdered, the authorities wonder if someone objected to female clergy, her race, or if it was something more personal.  Retired Chief Inspector Wexford is asked to consult on the case by his former colleague, Mike Burden.  Wexford finds that it could be any of the three motives, but he's especially interested in Sarah's personal life after he discovers that her daughter, Clarissa, was to learn the identity of her father on her eighteenth birthday, which is coming up soon. Burden, however, believes that it is Sarah's job and/or race which provides the motive.  Rendell then, at a leisurely pace, delves into the interpersonal relationships between a wide range of characters as we learn the killer's identity.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Once Upon a Lie by Maggie Barbieri

Maeve Conlon is not the least bit sorry to learn that her cousin, Sean, has been murdered.  Sean tormented Maeve when she was young, even breaking her arm.  Maeve believes that her father, Jack--widowed when Maeve was young--had no idea of Sean's evilness. Now, years later, Maeve and Jack can't really talk about the past because Jack is slowly descending into Alzheimer's and resides at an assisted living facility, from which he regularly escapes. When the police begin to wonder if Jack had something to do with Sean's death, Maeve worries that it's possible, but that, given Jack's state, they will never know the truth. Striving to protect Jack, keep her bakery afloat and raise two teenage daughters, Maeve is overwhelmed, but she finds that she has to face the secrets of her childhood in order to be set free.  A great read-alike for Hallie Ephron and Harlan Coben.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante

Palo Alto police detective Samantha Adams is assigned to investigate the suspicious death of plastic surgeon John Taylor. Even though Taylor had a heart attack, he has a puncture wound on his shoulder. The police are also tipped off that Taylor had not just one wife, but three. He had been married to wife number one, Deborah, for over thirty years and they had three children. Wife number two, MJ, is an accountant, with whom he lived in Los Gatos. Helen, a pediatric oncologist, was much younger than John--they met when she asked him to consult on one of her patients. In A Circle of Wives, the reader observes the unfolding murder investigation and has a front row seat as all the secrets of each of the four women's lives are laid bare. An engrossing novel that keeps you guessing right up to the end. A great read-alike for Tana French's Broken Harbor and A.S.A. Harrison's The Silent Wife.  It will be published in March.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay

Eve Petworth writes a fan letter to American novelist Jack Cooper and finds a kindred soul.  Both are near fifty, love cooking, and are at a crossroads with the relationships in their respective lives.  Eve has been divorced for years and is struggling with helping her daughter plan her wedding since they haven't been close. Jack's wife has recently left him for a woman and he wonders if he should start dating again.  In their letters to each other (Eve lives in Britain, Jack in the Hamptons), they are able to express their innermost thoughts and feelings.  After corresponding for awhile, Jack wants to meet in Paris, but Eve is hesitant.  Should they meet or will seeing each other ruin the special relationship they have created?  That Part Was True is reminiscent of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and is a cozy, heartwarming read.  It will be published in February.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

In this fifth book of the Mickey Haller series, Mickey is hired by Andre La Cosse, who's been arrested for murdering prostitute Gloria Dayton. Mickey knew Gloria years ago and gave her money to start a new life in Hawaii.  He's disappointed that Gloria returned to Los Angeles and that her job seems related to her death. But as Mickey and his team delve into Gloria's life, they discover that her murder is probably connected to why she disappeared from L.A. originally. Preparing for trial, Mickey risks both his life and those close to him to prove that Andre is innocent.  In Connelly's trademark style, he writes a fast-paced novel with a intriguing story and likable characters.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Innocent Sleep by Karen Perry

Harry and Robin are a married couple, living in Dublin, who are suffering tremendous grief. Five years ago, while living in Tangier, their young son Dillon was presumed dead after an earthquake destroyed the building they were living in. Harry had left Dillon home alone for a few minutes while Robin was working when the earthquake occurred. Even though they've moved back to their hometown of Dublin, it's been difficult to heal. Harry, however, believes that Dillon did not die in the earthquake. When he sees a boy who looks like Dillon, he decides he must track him down. He doesn't tell Robin about it, but searches on his own with the help of his friend, Spencer. Robin, meanwhile, discovers that she's expecting a child. Told through both Harry's and Robin's points of view, The Innocent Sleep explores loss in a family, along with the secrets we keep from each other.  It will be published in February.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Lydia's Party by Margaret Hawkins

It's January in Chicago and Lydia is having her annual party for her friends, which she's hosted for almost twenty years.  But this year, Lydia is filled with apprehension, knowing that she only has a couple of months to live and wondering how she'll tell her closest friends.  With most of the book taking place over one day, Lydia's regrets and the longings for things she wished she'd done differently are laid bare. Lydia's Party explores the issues of friendship and loss.  For readers who enjoy Stewart O'Nan. It will be published in January.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pagan Spring by G.M. Malliet

In this third mystery set in the village of Nether Monkslip, vicar Max Tudor is asked to assist the authorities with the investigation into the murder of Thaddeus Bottle, an actor/playwright who had recently moved back to the area.  Bottle, pompous and unfriendly, had made several enemies since his arrival.  His wife, Melinda, also has not been secretive that their marriage was an unhappy one.  Will Max's likable nature (and his MI5 background) help him find the killer? An enjoyable, leisurely-paced cozy. Perfect for readers who enjoy the Penny Brannigan series by Elizabeth J. Duncan and Caroline Graham's Chief Inspector Barnaby mysteries.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith

Change, though extremely positive, is afoot at the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Mma Ramotswe wonders how she can broach the subject of maternity leave with Mma Makutsi--even though Mma Makutsi has not revealed that she's pregnant. Once Mma Makutsi gives birth, Mma Ramotswe realizes how much she misses her and how integral Mma Makutsi is to the success of the agency. Despite being preoccupied with personal matters, Mma Ramotswe has two cases to solve. She's hired by a lawyer to figure out if the young man who says he's the nephew set to inherit local farm is an impostor or the rightful heir. The other case involves a beauty salon that someone is trying to slander. Can Mma Ramotswe find the culprit before the place goes out of business? With McCall Smith's trademark coziness and light touch, he creates another winner.

Monday, November 11, 2013

What We've Lost is Nothing by Rachel Louise Snyder

When the homes in a suburban Oak Park, Illinois cul-de-sac are burgled in the middle of the afternoon, all the residents' lives are thrown off-kilter. Teenager Mary Elizabeth starts hanging out with bad boy Caz. Her mother, Susan, who works at the Oak Park Community Housing Office, has her faith in racial unity questioned. Michael, her father, becomes angry and is sure that the cousins of the Cambodian family in the neighborhood are involved in the crime. Arthur Gardenia, a victim of day blindness, is reminded again of how his illness has isolated him. Sary and Dara, the Cambodians, become convinced that they were robbed because they have ignored their ancestors since they've come to the United States. Taking place over three days, the reader sees the characters' lives spin slowly out of control. Dealing with issues of race, class, and crime, What We've Lost is Nothing would make a good book discussion title.  It will be published in January.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Children of the Revolution by Peter Robinson

DCI Alan Banks and his team are investigating the death of Gavin Miller. Down on his luck after being let go for sexual harassment from his professorial post at a local university, Miller is found with 5,000 pounds in his pocket. As the case proceeds, Banks learns that the claims against Miller were false and that Miller was very politically active during college in the early 1970's.  Banks is especially suspicious about a seven minute phone call between Miller and Lady Veronica Chalmers a week before he died.  Lady Chalmers denies knowing Miller, even though someone on Bank's team discovers that they went to university together.  Is there a connection between Miller and Lady Chalmers or is Miller's death related to the erroneous statements made about him?  In Children of the Revolution, Robinson fills his mystery with the step-by-step investigation undertaken by Banks and his team and the interpersonal relationships between them.  It will be published in March.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

Bridget has been a widow for five years now and is dating a much younger man, Roxster.  She is also raising her two children (Billy and Mabel) and trying to get her script, a remake of Hedda Gabler, made into a movie.  The novel follows Bridget with humorous daily diary entries on the ups and downs of her life.  The reader also gets an update on what happened to all the secondary characters since the first two books.  A light, enjoyable diversion...  I wasn't bothered by Darcy's death, since I had known about it beforehand-- and I found Bridget's dating Roxster not really surprising, considering her madcap worldview.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

In 1916, in the occupied French town of St. Peronne, Sophie runs a cafe with her sister, Helene, and longs to once again see her husband, Edouard--now at war.  He painted a portrait of Sophie when they married and, despite the risk of losing the painting to the Germans, she hangs it on the wall.  As the story progresses, the reader wonders if the artwork might enable Sophie to see Edouard again. Jump to contemporary London, where Liv resides in a glass house that her architect husband, David, designed. She cannot put his death several years ago behind her.  Her strongest connection to him is the painting that he bought for her, entitled The Girl You Left Behind, hanging on her bedroom wall. When Liv learns that the painting might have been stolen and may not be rightfully hers, she cannot help but fight to keep it.  She also finds herself delving into Sophie's life and is compelled to protect Sophie's memory. The situation is complicated by the fact that the lead investigator in the effort to return the painting to the artist's family is Paul, the man she's recently fallen in love with. Will Liv and Paul be able to find happiness amid all the unpleasantness of the painting's history and Sophie's emerging story?  The Girl You Left Behind combines an intriguing backstory with Sophie's World War I tale and a contemporary romance with Liv and Paul.  For readers who enjoy Maeve Binchy and Katie Fforde.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Waiting for Wednesday by Nicci French

Mother of three Ruth Lennox is found murdered in her home in what looks like a burglary gone wrong.  DCI Karlsson and his team wonder if the case is that simple.  Meanwhile, psychotherapist Frieda Klein is taking a hiatus from work after the trauma that she suffered in the last book in the series, Tuesday's Gone. Frieda finds her path intersecting with Karlsson's again when she becomes convinced that a memory related by a pseudo-client is actually a sign that a psychopath is on the loose. In Waiting for Wednesday, Nicci French delivers another smacking good read in the Frieda Klein series. The husband and wife author duo further develop the emotionally rich main character and keep the reader racing to the end through the myriad of plot twists.  It will be published in April.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Thursdays in the Park by Hilary Boyd

Jeanie is stuck in an unhappy marriage.  Almost sixty, her husband George moved himself to a separate bedroom ten years ago.  He also ignores any opinions she has about whether they should retire and move to the country. Jeanie wants to stay in London running her health food store, while George wants to buy a home in Dorset. While watching her granddaughter Ellie one Thursday, Jeanie meets Ray and his grandson Dylan at a local park. After several meetings, Jeanie realizes that she has feelings for Ray, and he for her. Will Jeanie give up her life with George and risk turmoil within her family to be with Ray?  In Thursdays in the Park, Hilary Boyd has written an enjoyable novel similar to Virginia Ironside's No, I Don't Want to Join a Book Club, The Ex-Wife Survival Guide by Debby Holt, and Joanna Trollope.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman

In 1976, criminal Felix Brewer disappears in order to avoid a prison term. He abandons his wife, Bambi, and three daughters--Linda, Rachel, and Michelle. He leaves them no money and they're clueless as to whether he's still alive. His mistress, Julie Saxony, helps him escape. In return, he buys her a coffee shop to run. Then, ten years later, Julie vanishes. Has she joined Felix or did something more sinister happen? When her body is found in 2001, there are no good leads and it becomes a cold case. Now in 2012, Sandy Sanchez, who works for the city of Baltimore, decides to look into Julie's death again. In doing so, the reader sees, through the characters' eyes, how the absence of Felix has affected them and how they've grown from girls to women. We also are privy to the speculation about what happened to Felix and Julie and the family's financial struggles. In the end, Sandy's reopening of Julie's case will finally reveal what occurred all those years ago. After I'm Gone will be published in February.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton

Kinsey is puzzled when she gets a call from the coroner's office asking if she could come and identify a male body that had her name and phone number in his pocket. After she sees the deceased, Kinsey is even more perplexed, because she's never met the man, who was homeless. Not having any current cases, she decides to determine the man's identity. Soon, she finds out his name was Terrence Dace and realizes that several months ago someone had called her office asking about him. What is Terrence's connection with Kinsey? Kinsey also finds herself pulled into an investigation of the dealings of shady fellow private investigator Pete Wolinsky after his murder. In W is for Wasted, Grafton has presented the reader with an interesting puzzle, along with some introspection on Kinsey's part--which makes perfect sense, since there are only a few books left in the series.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Reverend Clare Fergusson, pregnant and newly married, is taking an overdue honeymoon with her husband (Miller's Kill police chief Russ Van Alstyne) at a cabin on Lake Iverary. Despite getting away, they are caught up in the investigation into the arson deaths of a couple who were fostering a young girl named Mikayla Johnson. Mikayla is missing and recently had a liver transplant. The authorities are in a race against time to find Mikayla, who will die if she isn't taking her medication. Clare and Russ are also weathering problems in their personal and professional lives--Russ isn't sure about becoming a father while Clare wants to keep the baby. Clare has to decide whether to resign her position with the church because she became pregnant while not yet married--or possibly be let go and not be able to get another position. Russ faces the dissolution of the Miller's Kill police department and a takeover by the state police. When a terrible winter storm hits the area, Clare and Russ are stranded at the cabin while Russ's officers, Hadley Knox and Kevin Flynn (who have a complicated personal relationship of their own) take charge of investigating Mikayla's disappearance themselves. While I enjoyed catching up with the personal lives of the characters and Spencer-Fleming has a real knack for the dialogue of their interpersonal relationships, the mystery aspect of the book was too leisurely-paced for me.  It will be published in November.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Never Laugh as a Hearse Goes By by Elizabeth J. Duncan

Penny accompanies her friend, DCI Gareth Davies to a conference at Gladstone's Library for the clergy of the Church in Wales.  When the secretary to the bishop, Minty Russell, discovers the secrets of some of the attendees and begins to blackmail them, it's no surprise that she ends up murdered. Allergic to shellfish, Minty is exposed to fish and her EpiPen has mysteriously disappeared from her purse when she needs it most. When another person is murdered, the police investigation goes into high gear.  Penny, aided with information from Davies, attempts to solve both crimes.  In this fifth book in the Penny Brannigan series, Duncan writes another cozy, enjoyable book. It will be published next month.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Don Tillman is a genetics professor in Melbourne who has Asperger's Syndrome.  He decides to embark on what he calls the Wife Project, a questionnaire to give women that will help him find a mate.  Then he meets a woman named Rosie, who's totally unsuitable according to the survey. However, she enlists Don to help her collect the DNA from men who possibly could be her father--and he finds that he enjoys her company. Being with Rosie allows Don to break rules, deviate from his very structured schedule, and have fun in ways he never imagined.  Can Don and Rosie overcome the complications in their relationship to find love?  The Rosie Project will be published next month.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Never Go Back by Lee Child

Reacher hitchhikes to Washington D.C. to meet Major Susan Turner, the person who helped him in 61 Hours. When he arrives, he discovers that Turner has been arrested on what Reacher knows is a bogus charge.  Her replacement, Lt. Colonel Morgan, informs him that he's being recalled into the army and that he's facing charges of his own. Wondering what's really going on, Reacher decides to break both himself and Turner out of jail in order to clear their names. With unknown people on their trail, Reacher and Turner try to stay one step ahead.  Never Go Back was a pretty average book in the series--the first 80 pages kind of dragged because I have no interest in the different army ranks or the internal politics. However, when Reacher teamed up with Turner, the book's pacing picked up and became more like the Lee Child novels that everyone loves.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Raven's Eye by Barry Maitland

DI Kathy Kolla is mistakenly called to a houseboat where a woman has died of carbon monoxide poisoning. But after surveying the scene, Kathy is not sure that the woman's death was accidental.  Things become even murkier when she discovers that the woman, known to neighbors as "Vicky" was actually Gudrun Kite, whose sister Freyja was killed in a hit-and-run accident. Gudrun's father, Desmond, believes that Freyja was murdered. Kathy and her boss, DCI Brock, have been told to shelve the investigation because of budgetary constraints, along with the belief that no crime has been committed. Instead, Kathy is supposed to focus on impersonating the wife of Jack Bragg, a longtime crime boss, in the hopes of apprehending him. However, Kathy cannot let go of the Kite case, even if it means a secret investigation.  The Raven's Eye is a solid, typical British police procedural.  Suggest it to people who like Deborah Crombie and Peter Robinson.  It will be published in November.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

After Her by Joyce Maynard

In 1979, sisters Rachel and Patty Torricelli live with their distant mother while their father, a Marin County police detective attempts to uncover the identity of the "Sunset Strangler" who has killed several young women near their home north of San Francisco.  On summer vacation and without any friends, they spend their time exploring Mount Tamalpais and watching shows on their neighbors' televisions while sitting in their backyards. Both girls adore their father and see the strain that the case is putting on him and with Rachel having visions about the murders, they decide their father could use any help he can get.  But things don't work out as they planned...  Even thirty years later and now a successful novelist, Rachel is not able to put her past behind her. Will she be finally be able to set things right?  After Her reminded me of Laura Lippman's The Most Dangerous Thing, but is more leisurely-paced.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

Twenty-five years ago, eleven-year-olds Bel and Jade were convicted of murdering a young child named Chloe.  But after serving their time and having their names changed, they have made new lives for themselves. Amber (Bel) works as a manager at a carnival in the seaside town of Whitmouth.  Kirsty (Jade) married Jim, has two children and is a journalist.  The authorities have forbidden any contact between the two women, but they find their lives intersecting when a serial killer is uncovered in Whitmouth and Kirsty arrives to report on the crimes. The main question then becomes will Amber and Kirsty be able to keep their pasts hidden?  The Wicked Girls is a psychological novel in the style of Tana French, although it's much more compact and doesn't have the police angle.  Alex Marwood is a pseudonym for the writer Serena Mackesy who wrote Take My Hand, which I blogged about several years ago.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

While Cecilia's husband John Paul is on a business trip, she finds a letter he wrote years ago, saying she should only open it in the event of his death. Intrigued, she puts it aside to possibly open later. The contents of the envelope will have a profound effect on the lives of Cecilia, John Paul, and their three school-aged daughters.  It will also impact Tess, who has moved back to Sydney (her childhood home) from Melbourne after her husband, Will, and best friend/cousin, Felicity reveal they are in love.  School secretary and grandmother, Rachel is also not unaffected.  Filled with loneliness and anger, she still grieves twenty-five years after her teenage daughter, Janie's murder. The Husband's Secret packs an emotional wallop.  It's like a cross between Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult, yet deeper and more thought-provoking.  If you enjoy books about women's lives and relationships, this book is not to be missed.

The Mouse-Proof Kitchen by Saira Shah

Anna, a chef, and her husband, Tobias, look forward to fulfilling a dream by moving from London to Provence after their daughter is born. But when Freya arrives severely disabled, they are forced to re-evaluate their plans and come to terms with the fact that their lives are going to be very different than they expected.  Anna and Tobias end up buying a rambling rundown farmhouse in a rural French town that's filled with vermin but has loads of character. The colorful locals embrace the family, yet Anna and Tobias find themselves growing apart because of their differing emotions towards Freya and what kind of life they want for her.  While the plot might sound serious, it's not depressing because Shah fills her book with love and emotion along with a great sense of place and mouthwatering descriptions of the food Anna prepares from local ingredients--mostly from the land around her home.  A memorable read.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton

Reeve has changed her name and tried to make a new life for herself in San Francisco, but the trauma of being held prisoner for years when she was a teenager remains.  When Dr. Lerner, her therapist, asks Reeve to help Tilly (a girl who recently was found after being imprisoned), she readily agrees, because a woman in similar circumstances aided Reeve tremendously after she was freed. Travelling to Tilly's hometown, Reeve becomes immersed in Tilly's life and the quest to find her kidnapper.  What Reeve, Tilly, and the authorities don't know is that the perpetrator is not in hiding, but part of the investigation, and is secretly listening in on them and and tracking their every move.  He still has two other girls in captivity and is not afraid to resort to violence to keep the secret. The Edge of Normal is a taut suspense novel that delves sympathetically into the mindset of survivors of extreme abuse.  Give to readers who enjoyed Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman and James Patterson's Alex Cross novels.  It will be published next month.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Just What Kind of Mother Are You? by Paula Daly

Mother of three Lisa Kallisto is finding it hard to balance her home and work life. When Lucinda, a friend of Lisa's teenage daughter, goes missing while she's supposed to be in Lisa's care, she feels tremendous guilt. Lucinda's mother, Kate is Lisa's good friend. Faced with going to Kate's house and offering support, Lisa feels like a pariah. She then vows to find Lucinda herself. DC Joanne Aspinall is put in charge of Lucinda's disappearance and wonders if this case is connected to that of another girl that's gone missing recently. In Just What Kind of Mother Are You?, Daly goes beyond the search for Lucinda to explore the subjects of marriage and friendship. With a compelling storyline, it's definitely worth a read. It will be published in September.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lethal Treasure by Jane Cleland

Josie Prescott and her boyfriend, Ty, have become friends with Leigh Ann and her husband, Henri, who are new to Rocky Point, New Hampshire.  Leigh Ann and Henri have an interior design business in town and their paths frequently intersect with Josie's.  Josie owns an auction house and is always looking for antiques and collectibles to sell, while Leigh Ann and Henry often hunt for items for their jobs.  Then Henri disappears and Leigh Ann is frantic with worry, hoping that he's OK. Ultimately, he is discovered murdered in a storage unit he had just bought for its contents.  Josie wonders who would want Henri dead and if the items in the locker have anything to do with his death. Given Josie's expertise with antiques, she is asked to assist the police with their investigation--but will her help put her in harm's way? An enjoyable entry in the Josie Prescott series.

Massacre Pond by Paul Doiron

Someone has slaughtered numerous moose on the land of wealthy Elizabeth Morse.  Morse has made a lot of enemies in Maine by buying up real estate in the hope of turning it into a national park. Game warden Mike Bowditch is called first to the scene then quickly dismissed and given a time-wasting job by his superior, Lt. Marc Rivard.  But Morse has taken a liking to Mike and gets him assigned as her go-between with the authorities.  Mike's position puts him close to the action, which all but assures he'll be involved in the violence that ensues and finding who's responsible.  In this fourth book of the Mike Bowditch series, Doiron writes a superb mystery filled with a great sense of place, a likable, yet flawed main character, who develops more with each book, and a "wow" ending--making the reader wish that the next book in the series was available to read right now. If you haven't read Doiron and enjoy authors such as C.J. Box, William Kent Krueger, Julia Spencer-Fleming, and Dennis Lehane's Kenzie/Gennaro series, you're missing out.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Tap on the Window by Linwood Barclay

Cal Weaver is a private investigator in upstate New York, whose life and marriage are in disarray because of his teenage son Scott's recent death.  When a local girl named Claire asks Cal for a ride, he starts to say no, but relents when she mentions that she knew Scott. Cal has no idea that his simple act of kindness will plunge him into the middle of a murder investigation, put himself in danger, and maybe even help him find out what really happened to Scott.  A Tap on the Window is a classic Barclay thriller, since it's centered around domestic issues and has a main character that the reader really feels compassion for.  It is, however, more leisurely-paced, than Barclay's last book, Trust Your Eyes, which is one of the best books I read last year.  Still worth a read...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Siege by Simon Kernick

Terrorists descend on the Stanhope Hotel in London, taking hostages and killing several hotel employees.  In the novel, the reader is introduced to manager Elena, a Polish immigrant just recently engaged.  We also meet hotel guests, Martin Dalston, who has inoperable cancer and has come to the Stanhope to commit suicide, Floridian vacationer Abby Levinson, her son Ethan, and the mysterious Scope whose presence at the hotel might be unwelcome to the terrorists--Fox,Wolf and their colleagues. Will the authorities be able to rescue the hostages and keep the bad guys from blowing up the hotel?  In Siege, Kernick has written a suspenseful book with a cast of likable characters and pretty much non-stop action, since the book takes place in less than a day.  A superb thriller that's a great read-alike for Lee Child.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach

Twenty-something Leila is socially awkward and friendless.  She is even more alone when her mother dies. After moving to a new flat in another part of London, she gets involved in a website called Red Pill, where the members debate philosophical issues.  The creator of the site, a man named Adrian, approaches Leila, asking her if she would be interested in helping a woman named Tess who wants to commit suicide. Leila's job would be to impersonate Tess online to her family and friends to make them believe that she still is alive, in order to cause them the least amount of pain.  Leila agrees and spends hours getting to know Tess, her background, and the way she behaves, so she can be successful at her task.  Leila and Tess, however, never meet in person.  After Tess leaves on her journey and Leila's job begins, she finds it's hard to separate her life from Tess' and not be curious about how Tess took her own life.  Leila's character is not that sympathetic, but the overall plot really keeps you engaged.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ladies' Night by Mary Kay Andrews

Grace Stanton has built a successful career online with her home-living blog, Gracenotes.  But when she catches her husband, Ben, in a compromising position with her assistant, J'Aimee, she impulsively drives his Audi into their swimming pool. Grace then moves in with her mother, Rochelle, upstairs from the Sandbox, a bar that she's owned since Grace was a girl.  As part of the judge granting Grace and Ben a divorce, he requires that Grace attend group therapy sessions. Furious at the judge's decision and without any money (since Ben has cancelled her credit cards and frozen their bank accounts) Grace tries to stay positive--even after Ben has shut her out of Gracenotes.  With the support of Rochelle, her fellow members in her therapy group, and maybe a possible romance with Wyatt, the owner of Jungle Jerry's (a dying family fun park), she just might turn her life around for the better.  Ladies' Night is a humorous, breezy read with an interesting setting on the gulf coast of Florida, combined with lively characters and a bit of romance.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand

The Carmichael and Graham families are gathering on Nantucket for the wedding of Jenna and Stuart.  Following the events over a summer weekend, the story is told through the eyes of three characters.  Jenna's father, Doug, realizes that he doesn't love his second wife, Pauline, and misses the love he felt for his late wife, Beth, who died of cancer.  Jenna's older sister, Margot, is obsessing over the secret relationship she's having with her father's law partner, Edge.  Stuart's mother, Ann, a state senator from North Carolina is finding it hard to stomach the presence at the festivities of her husband's second wife, Helen, even though she was the one who invited her.  With Hilderbrand's trademark of the interpersonal relationships of the wealthy set against the backdrop of Nantucket, Beautiful Day is an engaging beach read.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

In 1947, Frances Gerety coins the saying "A Diamond is Forever" for client De Beers. The reader then gets a glimpse into Frances' life as a single career woman in Philadelphia working at the advertising agency Ayer and Son and how the creation of the tagline followed Frances throughout her life.  The theme of diamond rings and love is explored in four people's lives: Evelyn, a wealthy retired schoolteacher in the 1970's, James, a paramedic struggling to make ends meet in 1987, Delphine, a Parisian woman who left her husband in 2003, and Kate, a liberal upstate New Yorker who is against the idea of marriage in 2012.  Sullivan is able to vividly create the characters' lives in the different decades and keep the reader guessing about how their paths will intersect.  The Engagements reminded me of the novels of Stewart O'Nan.

The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken by Tarquin Hall

Private detective Vish Puri is hired to find out who poisoned the father of famous cricketer Kamran Khan.  Puri was actually present at the party where Mr. Khan ate the butter chicken laced with aconite. Was he killed because of the illegal goings-on in the international world of cricket (such as match fixing and illegal gambling) or is the reason more personal?  Puri has his hands full, having to travel from India to Pakistan dealing with several wealthy, powerful and hard to access suspects. Will he be able to unmask the killer?  This third novel in the Vish Puri series was okay reading, but I was hoping for more of a presence for Puri's mother, Mummy-ji and forward movement in the lives of the recurring characters.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Close by Eyes by Sophie McKenzie

Londoner Gen Loxley still suffers immense grief over the stillbirth of her daughter, Beth, eight years ago.  Her husband, Art, a successful businessman has been able to move on. When a woman named Lucy O'Donnell tells Gen that her baby was born alive and that Art knew about it, Gen believes that she might be telling the truth. After looking through personal papers of hers and Art's, she finds a payment of 50,000 pounds that Art can't account for, which raises Gen's suspicions even more. Gen's journey causes her to revisit the memories of her daughter's death and put her own life (and others') in danger.  In Close My Eyes, McKenzie has written a psychological puzzle filled with doubt, emotion, and perseverance.  A book that you want to gulp down in one sitting because you have to know how it ends.  Give to readers who enjoyed Little Face by Sophie Hannah and Lullaby by Clare Seeber.  It will be published next month.

Second Watch by J.A. Jance

J.P. Beaumont decides it's time to have double knee replacement surgery since he's been in pain for a while. While he's recovering in the hospital and on heavy pain medication, the ghost of Monica Wellington visits him. Monica is angry that Beau never found her killer. Her murder was Beau's first case as a homicide detective for the Seattle PD, over forty years ago. He decides it couldn't hurt to delve into it again, since he has some time on his hands. The reader is taken back in time to see Beau's original work on the case in the seventies and how his recent activity leads to more questions, cover-ups, and murder. On a personal level, the image of Lennie D. also appears to Beau while he's in his medicated recovery. Lennie D. saved Beau's life in Vietnam and died in the process. Having the dream about Lennie causes Beau to confront his wartime past and do justice to Lennie D's memory.  Second Watch is another enjoyable entry in the J.P. Beaumont series.  I'm so glad that Jance has continued to write these books.  It will be published in September.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Crime of Privilege by Walter Walker

Twelve years ago, lawyer George Becket helped cover up a young woman's rape by some acquaintances, who were the relatives of Senator Gregory in Palm Beach. He was rewarded with a job in the district attorney's office in Cape Cod. George has been contacted repeatedly since by someone representing the father of the victim. They wanted him to come clean about the event, but he never did. George is then approached by Bill Telford, whose daughter, Heidi, was murdered nine years ago. Telford believes a member of the Gregory family killed his daughter and that the district attorney's office has disregarded any evidence Telford's brought them. George then decides to look into Heidi's death. His investigation takes him around the world, but he is being shadowed and doesn't know who he can trust. Will George be able to right the wrong in his past? With its setting and aura of wealth and power, Crime of Privilege reminded me of the novels of Nelson DeMille.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Something Borrowed, Someone Dead by M.C. Beaton

Private detective Agatha Raisin is finding that the recession is affecting her business. A lot of the small cases that provided a steady income have dried up. When Jerry Tarrant, head of the parish council in the small English village of Piddlebury, hires Agatha to look into the murder of resident Gloria French, she agrees to take the case.  Gloria, despite performing a lot of charity work in the village, made a lot of enemies by pilfering things from people and refusing to return them.  Even though the residents of Piddlebury disliked Gloria, Agatha finds that the villagers have closed ranks and believe that Gloria's killer was an outsider.  Their behavior is making it extremely difficult for Agatha to solve the case.  But as regular readers of this longtime series know, Agatha always gets a positive result, despite putting her own life on the line time and time again.  An enjoyable sojourn with Agatha and her friends...  It will be published in September.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

In Sedaris' latest collection of essays, he includes stories about his childhood, his adult life, and some that are fiction.  I really enjoyed "Memory Laps" about his childhood recollections of when he learned to swim, "Just a Quick E-mail" a story of fiction about a woman thanking a friend for a wedding gift, and "The Happy Place" about David's father pressuring him to get a colonoscopy.  I also thought that the collection was a much better read than the last few I have read by him.  In other recent Sedaris books I've read, I've felt that the stories about his childhood were superior to those about his adult life or the fiction ones. In this collection, though, I really enjoyed all three.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Accused by Lisa Scottoline

Mary DiNunzio has just made partner in the all-female law firm at which she works in Philadelphia.  She's also agreed to marry her boyfriend, Anthony, although she's having doubts about the union. When wealthy teenager Allegra Gardner wants Mary to act as her counsel to help her discover who murdered her older sister, Fiona, six years ago, Mary agrees. She feels an emotional bond with Allegra and would also love the challenge of the case.  Allegra believes that Lonnie Stall, the man in prison for Fiona's murder, is innocent. However, Mary and her associate, Judy Carrier, face an uphill battle because Allegra's parents are against her plans and believe that Fiona's killer is in prison.  As Mary investigates the case, part of her believes that Allegra could be right, but she has doubts about Allegra's state of mind after talking to her parents.  Will Mary be able to find peace in her personal life while helping Allegra? Accused is the latest novel in the Rosato and Associates series.  It will be published in October.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

Jodi and Todd have been a couple for over twenty years. Todd is a wealthy property developer with a wandering eye. Jodi is a psychotherapist working out of their Chicago condo with a view of Lake Michigan.  In a couple of months, Jodi will murder Todd. This is the premise of The Silent Wife.  What follows is the unraveling of their relationship--in part because of Todd's affair with his best friend's college-age daughter. Told from both Jodi's and Todd's points of view, the story gives the reader insight on how both characters feel about themselves and each other.  I enjoyed the novel because of its Chicago setting and the unfolding story of a failed relationship, leading to such a desperate and violent act. Give to readers who enjoyed Gone Girl, although I enjoyed this book much more.  It will be published next month.

Is This Tomorrow by Caroline Leavitt

It's 1956 in the suburb of Waltham, Massachusetts and twelve-year-old friends Lewis and Jimmy find camaraderie in the fact that they are the only fatherless kids in their neighborhood. Jimmy's older sister, Rose, hangs around with them and nurses a secret crush on Lewis. When Jimmy goes missing one afternoon, the lives of Lewis, Rose, and Lewis's divorced mother, Ava, are altered forever. Lewis and Rose believe that he's still alive and he's always in their thoughts as they get older. Ava's boyfriend, Jake, even comes under scrutiny. He begs Ava to leave town with him, but she refuses. She likes the life she's built for herself in Waltham and dreams of owning the home that she and Lewis rent. Told through the eyes of Lewis, Ava, and Rose, and taking place over a number of years, Is This Tomorrow explores heartache and the progression of these characters who are united by both tragedy and love.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Gifted by Gail Bowen

Joanne's adopted daughter, Taylor, is really coming into her own as an artist. Taylor's mother, Sally Love, was a famous painter who died when Taylor was a young child and Joanne has raised Taylor since then, because Joanne and Sally were close childhood friends. Joanne's relationship with Taylor has always been easygoing but becomes complicated when Julian Zentner starts to influence Taylor about taking risks in her personal life to enrich her art.  Since Taylor is only fifteen and Julian is several years older, Joanne and her husband, Zack, are very concerned. Julian has been having an affair with Lauren Treadgold, a woman more than twenty years older than he is, but even this fact doesn't dissuade Taylor from spending time with Julian.  Will Joanne and Zack be able to maintain their strong relationship with Taylor or will it fall apart? Gail Bowen has written another solid entry in the long running Joanne Kilbourn series.  I always love catching up with Joanne, her friends and her family.  It was also nice to explore Joanne's relationship with Taylor.  In reading about Joanne and Taylor, it brought back a lot of memories of the first book I read in the series, Love and Murder, which featured Taylor's mother, Sally. These books are a great read-alike for Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway books.  The Gifted will be published in August.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Lost Husband by Katherine Center

Libby and her two young children have lived with her mother for the past two years, following the death of her husband, Danny. When her Aunt Jean, owner of a farm in Atwater, Texas, asks her to come and live with her, Libby jumps at the chance to escape her mother's criticism, even though she doesn't know anything about farming.  Libby is pleased to milk the goats, get to know her aunt and see her children adapt well to a more rural lifestyle. However, she still finds it hard to get over Danny, even though she's attracted to O'Connor, a man who helps run Jean's farm.  Slowly, with the support of friends and her Aunt Jean, Libby finds herself anew.  The Lost Husband is the fourth novel by Katherine Center and is perfect for people who have enjoyed Gil McNeil's Jo Mackenzie series and Kissing Games of the World by Sandi Kahn Shelton.