Friday, March 29, 2013

The Highway by C.J. Box

Teenage sisters Danielle and Gracie are driving from Denver to visit their father in Omaha for Thanksgiving. Danielle decides to make a detour and visit her boyfriend, Justin, in Helena, Montana instead.  Danielle's impulsive choice turns incredibly dangerous when their car breaks down and they are kidnapped by a trucker. The trucker nicknamed "the Lizard King" is a killer who scouts the roads and truck stops for young women he can abduct and torture.  When Danielle doesn't answer Justin's phone call, he immediately is worried that something is wrong, since Danielle is obsessive about him.  Justin asks his father, Cody, a disgraced cop, to try and find out what happened to the girls.  Cody then hits the road to talk to the local police while his ex-partner, Cassie Dewell, stays behind to handle the phone and do research on the internet about any disappearances of young women in the area.  Will they be able to rescue Danielle and Gracie before harm comes to them?  The Highway is the second book to feature the characters of Cody, Justin, Danielle, and Gracie after the superb Back of Beyond.   While I enjoyed the book, Box focuses more on the kidnapper's and Cassie's points of view than the returning characters.  I wonder if he has in mind having them return for another book.  It will be published in July.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne

Daniel is a successful attorney in London specializing in defending juveniles. When he meets Sebastian, an eleven-year-old accused of murdering another neighborhood boy, memories of his own traumatic childhood come to the surface, especially since Minnie, the woman who raised him, has just passed away. Daniel feels protective of Sebastian because he sees the path he could have gone down himself if he didn't have Minnie's love and support. This realization leads Daniel to remember how he severed his relationship with Minnie and never saw her again before she died. Daniel's coming-of-age story with Minnie is alternated with that of his present defense of Sebastian.  The reader learns what happened between Daniel and Minnie and wonders along with him whether Sebastian is guilty of the crime he's on trial for. In The Guilty One, Lisa Ballantyne has written a psychological page turner that's emotional and chilling. I really enjoyed it. For people who enjoy psychological novels with a domestic bent.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

In 1912, Scottish poet Elspeth Dunn receives her first fan letter from a man named David Graham, who lives in Urbana, Illinois.  They start to correspond regularly and each realizes that they have found a kindred soul.  Elspeth is married to Iain who's away at war, while David is in college.  But soon it becomes obvious that they've fallen in love.  Fast forward to 1940, when we see letters written by Elspeth's daughter, Margaret.  Elspeth has disappeared from her home in Edinburgh.  Margaret is sick with worry about her mother's whereabouts.  In trying to find her mother, Margaret uncovers Elspeth's past and the reader discovers what happened to Elspeth and David.  Letters from Skye is a gentle and cozy read similar to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  It will be published in July.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood

In 1960, Claire is a housewife with a young daughter. When a neighborhood boy disappears, she starts thinking about how unhappy she is in her marriage. She begins an affair with a man and believes that she is pregnant with his baby. Claire's story is alternated with that of Vivien, who in 1919, is still mourning the disappearance of her lover in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Vivien after all these years still holds out hope that David, the love of her life, is suffering from amnesia and still alive. Vivien passes the time writing moving and intimate obituaries for people who have lost their loved ones.  The Obituary Writer tells the story of these two women from different generations whose lives intersect and shows how their confessions to each other set them free.  For readers who enjoyed Sandra Dallas' The Bride's House and Ellen Baker's Keeping the House.

Crossbones Yard by Kate Rhodes

London psychologist Alice Quentin's traumatic childhood has affected her relationships.  The only people she's close to are her brother, Will (who lives in his van after suffering a nervous breakdown years ago) and her childhood best friend, Lola.  As part of her job, she's asked by the police to consult on the case of Morris Cley, who's being released from prison early.  Cley knew a couple named Ray and Marie Benson. The Bensons murdered more than a dozen prostitutes and were incarcerated six years ago.  When a new body is discovered with injuries strikingly similar to the Bensons' victims', Alice finds herself deep in the investigation.  She also discovers that someone who wants to do her harm is watching her.  Crossbones Yard is the first book in the Alice Quentin series.  I really enjoyed the story, setting, and the development of the characters.  It reminded me of Nicci French's Frieda Klein series, Jane Casey's Maeve Kerrigan series, and Harry Bingham's Talking to the Dead. The only drawback was that Rhodes made the culprit too obvious.