Friday, September 15, 2017

Proof of Life by J.A. Jance

Retired with lots of time on his hands, J.P. Beaumont agrees to look into the death of former adversary Maxwell Cole, who recently died in a house fire. A longtime friend of Cole's named Erin Howard had asked Beaumont to look into the circumstances around the fire, because she believes that it wasn't accidental, despite what the authorities are saying. With help from his wife, Mel, and his former contacts in the Seattle Police Department, Beaumont tries to uncover the truth for Erin. Proof of Life is the most recent book in Jance's J.P. Beaumont series and it's always so much fun to spend time with an old acquaintance.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sleeping in the Ground by Peter Robinson

When a sniper takes aim at a wedding, Detective Superintendent Banks and his colleagues wonder about who the targets are and about a possible motive. The clues are few and no one got a good look at the gunman. To try and unmask the killer, the police delve into the lives and pasts of the wedding party and their guests. In this latest book in the long-running series, Robinson puts together an interesting puzzle, and catching up with Banks and his colleagues is always a treat.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton

Kinsey is hired by the parents of Fritz McCabe to find out who's blackmailing them with a videotape of an assault that Fritz committed years ago. Fritz was actually just released from prison after serving ten years for a murder he committed while in high school. The assault and crime that he was convicted for involve the same set of people, so Kinsey finds herself really looking at both events, since they are interrelated. On a more personal front, Kinsey is on edge and constantly on guard, worried that killer Ned Lowe is after her. In the last book in the series, Ned succeeded in evading the authorities and is still on the run. In Y is for Yesterday, the reader goes between the current events happening in 1989 and those that occurred ten years earlier in 1979 with all the high school characters, including Fritz. While I really enjoyed the present story--following Kinsey as she investigates and gaining insight into her personal life--I found the flashback storyline too leisurely-paced for my liking.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

When widower bookseller Julius Nightingale passes away, the future of the bookshop that he owned for thirty years could be in jeopardy. His daughter, Emilia, has come home to the Cotswold village of Peasebrook, determined to take over, but it appears the store hasn't made money in years. With a local developer putting pressure on Emilia to sell, it will take a lot of hard work and support from her friends and fellow villagers to turn the fortunes of the shop around.  How to Find Love in a Bookshop is a delightful and cozy tale of Emilia's and her supporters' daily lives and loves, wrapped in a small town setting. A great read-alike for Jenny Colgan and Katie Fforde.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Holding by Graham Norton

When human bones are unearthed on a local building site, their discovery affects many in the small Irish village of Duneen. Most wonder if the skeleton belongs to Tommy Burke, who supposedly left town twenty years ago. His fiance at the time, Brid, got in a fight with another young woman named Evelyn, who had a crush on Tommy, around the time that he disappeared.  Do either of them know anything about what happened? Local Sergeant P.J. Collins, overweight and with not much experience in major crimes, pushes forward to try and solve the case. Holding is the first novel by talk show host Graham Norton and displays a great sense of place for a small town, and highlights the everyday lives of some of the townspeople whose lives are upended by the uncovering.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dead on Arrival by Matt Richtel

Disgraced infectious disease physician, Lyle Martin, is on a flight to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where almost all the passengers (except Martin, the pilot and co-pilot and one other passenger) appear to have died. Everyone on the ground seems to have perished too. After getting out of the plane and investigating, Lyle discovers they are still alive, but unable to move. Is the cause of their condition a virus or something else? The survivors from the airplane attempt to uncover the truth in this creepy technothriller.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

It's near closing time at the zoo and regulars Joan and her four-year-old son, Lincoln, are heading towards the exit when Joan realizes that someone is shooting people. Terrified and desperate to protect her son, Joan heads back into the zoo to find a safe hiding place, but soon, Joan realizes there are at least two people who have no problem killing anything they see. She also wonders how long it will take for the authorities to come and rescue them. Taking place over a few hours, Fierce Kingdom is a page turner that shows the unbreakable bond mothers have towards their children.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Birdwatcher by William Shaw

William South lives a solitary life as a local policeman and birdwatcher on the Kentish coast. He is also someone who got away with murder when he was young growing up in Northern Ireland. Because of his earlier crime, he has avoided similar cases in his job, but when asked to assist the new Detective Sergeant Alexandra Cupidi, he finds himself involved in the murder case of his neighbor and friend, Bob Rayner. The crime hits William close to home because of his past and his friendship with Bob. As the investigation unfolds, it seems that William's former life may be catching up with him... The Birdwatcher is an engrossing read for those who enjoy British police procedurals.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

Taking a shortcut home on a isolated road during a rainy evening, Cass, sees a woman in a car that looks like it's broken down. After deciding not to come to her aid, the next morning, Cass discovers that the woman was found dead in her vehicle. Cass's guilt about not calling emergency services begins to eat away at her.  She also starts to get phone calls several times a day where no one appears to be on the line. With memories of her own mother's early onset dementia close in her mind, Cass wonders if that's what happening to her, especially because she seems to be forgetting things. As Cass descends farther into paranoia and absentmindedness, one wonders whether Cass is really ill or is something more sinister going on. The Breakdown is a psychological tale that meanders a bit for most of the book, but the last hundred pages are worth waiting for.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Late Show by Michael Connelly

LAPD detective Renee Ballard has been relegated to the late shift after accusing a superior of sexual harassment. Working 11pm-7am, Renee always has to pass the cases she and her partner work on to other detectives, which is frustrating. When an opportunity arises to investigate an assault that left the victim near death, she decides to work on it off-hours. Renee is also peripherally involved in the investigation of a club shooting that left five dead. Soon enough, Renee realizes that working "the late show" might give her the challenge she's looking for.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo

When she was young, Kate worshiped neighbor Joseph King. They lost touch after he moved away following his father's death, when both Kate and Joseph were teenagers.  Now, she gets word that he has escaped from prison, where he is serving a life sentence for murdering his wife, Naomi. Joseph's children now live with Rebecca and Daniel Beachy, Naomi's sister and her husband, so Kate decides to notify them of Joseph's breakout, since they are Amish and don't have a phone. Kate finds herself caught in the middle when Joseph arrives at the Beachy's while she's there and takes his children hostage. Joseph also tells Kate that he did not kill Naomi and asks for her help in finding the her killer. Kate decides to look into the case, putting both her career and life on the line.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Nikki grew up in a traditional Sikh household in London. Working in a pub, she's been a disappointment to her family ever since she dropped out of law school and moved out of the family home. When the opportunity arises to teach a class on writing to some women at the local Punjabi community center, she decides to take the job. While Nikki thought she would be teaching creative writing, it turns out the class is made up of widows who are not adept in writing the English language. When the students find a book of erotica among Nikki's things, they decide to spend class time transcribing the racy stories of the members of the class. Soon, the stories are spread all over London, but with this fact comes the danger of the conservative men in the community discovering what's being going on. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows gives the reader a glimpse into a community that has been underrepresented in popular fiction.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Camino Island by John Grisham

Novelist Mercer Mann is broke and suffering from writer's block. When she's approached with an offer to move to the town of Santa Rosa in Florida and get close to bookstore owner Bruce Cable, she is apprehensive, but agrees because she will be finally be out of debt. The authorities are interested in Cable because they believe he is in possession of the five original manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novels that were stolen from the Princeton University library. The plan is for Mercer to befriend Cable and find out where he is hiding the novels, so they can be returned to the archives. Does Cable really have the manuscripts...and if he does, will Mercer succeed in her task? In Mercer Mann, Grisham has created an extremely likable character, which is one of his trademarks. The story of the theft of the manuscripts is also interesting.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

Identical twins Harper and Tabitha Frost haven't spoken in fourteen years. Tabitha lives with her teenage daughter, Ainsley, on Nantucket, while Harper lives on Martha's Vineyard. When they were in college, their parents, Eleanor and Billy, divorced and agreed that each would be responsible for and finishing raising one twin. Harper, close with Billy, has gotten in trouble with law and has a bad reputation on Martha's Vineyard, which hasn't been helped by her affair with Billy's doctor, Reed Zimmer. Tabitha, meanwhile, manages a boutique on Nantucket that features clothes that Eleanor has designed. When Billy passes away and Eleanor breaks her hip, the sisters are forced to see each other and work together as a family. While I usually enjoy Hilderbrand's books, this one was a miss for me. The characters of Harper, Tabitha, and Ainsley aren't very likable and fleshed out. In addition, Eleanor is only seventy-one years old, but the author has characterized her as old and rigid, which seems a bit too easy and stereotypical, especially since I know so many women who are so vital at that age.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan

Working as a paralegal in London, Flora MacKenzie, is glad to be away from her hometown of Mure in far north Scotland. Infatuated with her American boss, Joel, she is stunned to find herself working with him back in Mure. One of the firm's big name clients, Colton Rogers, is building a luxurious property on the island, but its beautiful views are going to be blocked by a wind farm. Colton wants a local's help (i.e. Flora) to stop the project. To her surprise, Flora finds herself warming to the beauty of Mure, as well as the father and brothers that she left behind. At the same time, she might be finding love. The Cafe by the Sea is a charming novel filled with quirky characters and lots of heart. Perfect for readers of Gil McNeil.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dark Saturday by Nicci French

Even though she's made a promise to herself to stay away from crime cases, psychotherapist Frieda Klein agrees to meet Hannah Docherty, who was convicted of brutally murdering her stepfather, mother, and younger brother over ten years ago. Committed to a psychiatric hospital, Hannah has spent much of her time in solitary confinement. When Frieda visits her, Hannah is unresponsive, and in bad shape physically. While Frieda isn't sure of Hannah's guilt, she feels compelled to try and help Hannah because of the state she is in. Soon, Frieda is delving into the murder files, rankling the authorities and people close to the deceased. Frieda also worries that Dean Reeve (introduced in the first book in the series, Blue Monday), whom the police have declared dead, is out there keeping tabs on her. In Dark Saturday, French continues the story of Frieda and her circle of family and friends, while leading the reader through a gruesome psychological puzzle. It will be published next month.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

Liv and Nora, who are first cousins, decide to go on a Christmas cruise to Latin America with their families. They take their four children, aged six to eleven, ashore for a zip-line tour, while their husbands go golfing. Then, the kids get separated from Liv and Nora, who become frantic with worry. In a foreign country with limited diplomatic help, Liv and Nora, who speak no Spanish, hope they get their children back safely. Do Not Become Alarmed is a fast-paced tale told from the point of view of the children and their parents and is a great read-alike for Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay. A sure bet summer read.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Living in New York with her boyfriend, Jeff, Quincy has tried to put her past behind her. When she was in college, she was the only survivor of the Pine Cottage massacre, in which five of her friends were killed. With that incident, she became known in the media as one of "The Final Girls." Two other women, Lisa Milner and Samantha Boyd, suffered similar tragedies before her and are also part of the trio. When Lisa is found dead in her home with a preliminary verdict of suicide and Quincy discovers that Lisa sent her an e-mail about wanting to talk just before she died, Quincy wonders if Lisa really did kill herself. Then, Samantha shows up at Quincy's door, forcing her to really think about her past and who she is as a person. Will facing what happened at Pine Cottage allow Quincy to finally heal or be her destruction? Final Girls is a fast-paced tale similar in writing style to the mysteries of Linda Castillo. It will be published next month.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Exit Strategy by Steve Hamilton

In this second book of the Nick Mason series, Nick is still indebted to criminal Darius Cole and is tasked with eliminating the witnesses who put Cole in prison. Cole figures if everyone who testified against him is dead, he will walk out of prison a free man, but both the authorities and the man Mason replaced as Cole's henchman are onto him. With Cole continuing to threaten to harm those Mason holds dear, will Mason switch sides?  While I really enjoyed the first book in the series, The Second Life of Nick Mason, this book's plot was slight and not as satisfying.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Even though teenager Ginny Moon has found a stable home life with her Forever Mom and Dad, she yearns to be reunited with her mother (Gloria) and Baby Doll. In fact, Ginny cannot stop thinking about Baby Doll and whether she's OK, since Ginny was once responsible for looking after her. This, despite the fact that Ginny herself was only nine years old when, four years ago, Ginny was taken away from Gloria because of neglect. With single-minded determination, Ginny makes it her goal, no matter what the cost, to be with Baby Doll again. Told through the eyes of Ginny, who has autism, Ginny Moon is a touching, humorous, and true-to-life view of how someone with autism sees the world. Ginny Moon is a character that readers won't soon forget...

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant lives a solitary existence working in an office with weekly phone calls to her mother. When she and a new co-worker, Raymond, help an older man named Sammy who has fallen in the street, she finds herself drawn into both Raymond's and Sammy's lives. Growing up in foster homes and having suffered trauma when she was young, she has a hard time not being judgmental, but slowly she begins to be touched by her new friends' kindness and concern for her. Eleanor has also developed somewhat of a crush on the lead singer of a band. She sets out to make herself over to win his affections. Will Eleanor come out of her shell, be able to put her past behind her and find happiness?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

What could have led Rachel, a journalist, to shoot her husband? In Since We Fell, the reader learns that Rachel has major trust issues after her mother passed away without revealing who Rachel's father is. Rachel also suffers from post-traumatic stress after witnessing horrible events while reporting in Haiti. When Rachel begins to suspect that her husband has not been entirely truthful to her, her investigative instincts go into overdrive and lead her down a path she couldn't possibly have imagined. While the book begins slowly and is leisurely-paced for at least the first third, soon you are engrossed in Rachel's story and can't put it down. The relationship between Rachel and her husband is very reminiscent of the marriage in Gone Girl and readers of the novels of Peter Swanson will find much to love here.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

The residents of Beartown live for hockey.  They are hoping that, if the town's junior team wins their match at the national tournament, it might be a turnaround for their economically depressed small town. In the novel, the reader gets to meet many of Beartown's inhabitants--the players, their parents, coaches, and the people who work for the club and are on the board. Then something happens that threatens to destroy the town's dreams, and individuals have to choose sides. No one comes out of the experience unchanged. In Beartown, Backman immerses you in the setting of a diverse Sweden, ugly at times, but hopeful as well.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

When the Conti's babysitter cancels, Anne and Marco decide that they can still go to dinner next door. They will take turns every half hour checking on their six-month-old daughter, Cora, After leaving the party at 1 a.m., they arrive home to find their daughter missing. The police investigation into Cora's abduction finds an open front door and a motion detector light on their back door that has been tampered with. Who would have kidnapped Cora? Was it for a large ransom from the baby's wealthy grandparents, or for another reason? The Couple Next Door explores the secrets that Anne and Marco might be keeping from each other, in addition to their fight to get Cora back. I thought that the novel was an ok read. If you enjoy this type of domestic suspense, The Other Child by Lucy Atkins and Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie are two of this genre that are hard to put down.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

In 1938, Marianne von Lingenfels makes a promise to watch over the families of German resistors. As the war comes to an end, she finds herself taking in Benita and her son, Martin, and Ania and her two sons, Anselm and Wolfgang, at the family's run-down castle. The three women struggle to survive on their own as they come to terms with the enormous toll the war has taken on them. Taking place over almost sixty years, the novel explores the lives of everyday Germans during the war, a view that hasn't really been explored at length in popular fiction. An absorbing read that would be great for discussion. Give to people who enjoyed Lilac Girls and other female-centered World War II fiction.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Murder Is for Keeps by Elizabeth J. Duncan

While painting a watercolor at Gwrych Castle, Penny Brannigan discovers the dead body of local resident, John Hardwick. Hardwick and others had been working on the gardens of the long-vacant and crumbling estate. Not knowing if he died of natural causes or more sinister means, the police have their hands full when human bones are discovered on the property. Penny and her friend, recently retired DCI Gareth Davies, are fascinated with the history of the castle and find themselves involved in both cases. I always look forward to reading the newest book in the Penny Brannigan series because of the characters and the small town setting of Llanelen, Wales.

Monday, April 17, 2017

My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith

After a particularly bad break-up, Paul takes his editor's advice and heads to Tuscany to finish his latest cookbook. After arriving, he discovers that his rental car is nowhere to be found. Left without a vehicle and desperate, Paul agrees to rent a bulldozer for his stay in Italy. While staying in the village of Montalcino, he interacts with the locals and tries to mend his broken heart. My Italian Bulldozer is a light and humorous read similar in feel to McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn

Six months: no falling in love, no dating anyone that we both know and no talking about it with each other. That's the agreement that married couple Lucy and Owen decide upon. Living in an upscale Hudson Valley community with their son, Wyatt, they are secure in their marriage, yet are intrigued about the possibilities of being involved with someone else. When both Lucy and Owen start exploring their options, they find their relationship changing in ways they never expected.  The Arrangement is a highly entertaining yet believable novel similar to Tom Perrotta and Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Twist of the Knife by Becky Masterman

A former colleague of retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn asks her to come to Florida and assist on an appeal for Marcus Creighton, who's soon to be executed for the murders of his family, although his children's bodies were never found. Brigid agrees to help her friend, Laura Coleman with the case. A native Floridian, Brigid will also be able to spend time with her elderly father, who's in the hospital and not doing well. Brigid and Laura have an uphill battle to save Creighton's life by searching for old evidence and seeing if any mistakes were made with the original case. Laura, though, appears to be a little too close to Creighton for Brigid's liking. In addition to all this, they are also trying to figure out what really happened to the Creighton children all those years ago.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Knife Creek by Paul Doiron

In the heat of a Maine summer, game warden Mike Bowditch, along with his girlfriend, Stacey, discovers a baby buried loosely in the ground. Both Mike and Stacey are extremely upset and wonder what lead to the baby's death. The only clues are the initials K.C. carved into a nearby tree and the clothes the child was wearing. Even though it's out of his jurisdiction, Mike continues to be haunted by what he saw, and finds himself involved in the investigation. In this latest book of the Mike Bowditch series, Doiron crafts a mystery that's extremely hard to put down. It has a great setting, a compelling story, and a main character with supporting characters that are interesting and believable. A top-notch series that deserves to mentioned as one of the best being written today. It will be published in June.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Mother's Promise by Sally Hepworth

When Alice Stanhope is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she tries to stay strong for her teenage daughter, Zoe, who has severe social anxiety. Alice and Zoe have been each other's only family for many years, although with her diagnosis, Alice needs extra support from Kate (a nurse) and the hospital's social worker, Sonja. Alice keeps the news of her cancer from Zoe, but when she has complications, mother and daughter find that Kate is a godsend. Kate, though, is going through issues in her own life--mainly the sadness with not being able to carry a baby to term. Sonja, meanwhile, is hiding her own secret that her husband, George, abuses her. The Mother's Promise explores all these women's lives in detail and, while I enjoyed the story, there was a plot point near the end of the novel that I thought was unnecessary.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

Forty years ago, Anthony Peardew's fiancee passed away. Since that day, he has picked up things that people have left behind or lost, such as a puzzle piece or an umbrella, cataloged them and then devoted a room in his house to the possessions. After Anthony dies, his housekeeper and secretary, Laura, is given his home in his will. She is also tasked with reuniting the items that Anthony has collected back to their owners. Laura is slowly regaining her sense of self after a divorce and has feelings for Anthony's gardener, Freddy. Will she be up to the task? The Keeper of Lost Things is a story of interesting characters and how their lives intertwine. Give this heartwarming tale to readers who enjoy the author Helen Simonson.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Death of a Ghost by M.C. Beaton

Retired police superintendent Handy Ebrington has bought a run-down castle in the town of Drim and wants the authorities to investigate, because he believes there's a ghost lurking about. Hamish Macbeth and his assistant, Charlie Carter, decide to spend the night in the castle and end up finding a dead body. Then the body disappears, and Hamish wonders if the crime might have been the work of smugglers. Soon, there are more murders, and Hamish attempts to wrap up the cases, all the while letting someone else take the credit (so he's not promoted and can stay in his beloved village of Lochdubh).

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Nearness of You by Amanda Eyre Ward

Successful, driven heart surgeon Suzette is caught off guard when her husband, Hyland, tells her that he'd like them to have a child. Married now for fifteen years, they had agreed that they weren't going to have children, because Suzette feared passing on her mother's mental illness. Hyland explains that he would like them to have a baby with a surrogate. Reluctant at first, Suzette agrees. After several false starts, a young woman named Dorrie agrees to be their surrogate, hoping that she can use the money she receives to go to college, but things don't go as planned... Taking place over the next fifteen years, the book explores the bonds of motherhood, marriage, and what it means to be a family.

Monday, February 27, 2017

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Living and working in London hasn't exactly turned out how Katie Brenner has planned. Barely scraping by on her salary at Cooper Clemmow and having to do the most menial jobs at the company have at times left her pretty depressed--albeit in a funny way. When she meets co-worker Alex, Katie--or Cat (as she has now christened herself to everyone)--feels really alive and attracted to him. Her boss at the firm, Demeter Farlowe, however, treats all of the staff in a demeaning way. Katie, though, feels Demeter is creative and really good at her job. Soon, however, Katie is fired and ends up back home in Somerset trying to help her dad with his latest business venture, a vacation spot for people who are into glamping. Will Katie show everyone that she really has the talent to make it in London? My Not So Perfect Life is a light, humorous tale of a woman trying to make her dreams come true.

Shadow Man by Alan Drew

Police detective Ben Wade moved back to his hometown of Rancho Santa Elena from Los Angeles four years ago. He and his wife, Rachel, have since divorced, but are co-parenting their teenage daughter, Emma. Life in Rancho Santa Elena has been quieter than L.A., but Ben finds himself tracking down a serial killer and trying to determine if a high school student's death was suicide. The boy who possibly committed suicide was on the school swim team, like Ben was at his age, and the boy's death brings back memories of Ben's childhood and teen years that he would really like to keep buried. Set in the 1980's, Shadow Man, features a changing Southern California along with a character-centered mystery.  It will be published in May.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Garden of Lamentations by Deborah Crombie

Gemma James finds herself both professionally and personally drawn to investigating the murder of nanny Reagan Keating, who was found dead in a Notting Hill communal garden. Working with DCI Kerry Boatman, Gemma tries to uncover who would want Reagan dead. At the same time, she's worried about the boy Reagan looked after, ballet dancer Jess. Meanwhile, Gemma's husband, Duncan Kincaid suspects possible high-level corruption in Scotland Yard when his former boss, Denis Childs, is viciously attacked. With help from their colleagues Doug and Melody, will both Gemma and Duncan be successful in discovering the truth? While I enjoyed catching up with the characters in this long-running mystery series, I found that the use of four points of view diluted the storyline. Also, a substantial part of the novel relied on events in the two previous books, and I wished I had retained more of the plot points. An ok read, but not one of her best.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Freedom Broker by K.J. Howe

Thea Paris' job as someone who rescues kidnap victims takes her around the world and puts her in lots of dangerous situations. Growing up as the daughter of wealthy businessman, Christos Paris, her childhood was altered with the kidnapping of her older brother, Nikos. Nikos came home after almost a year, but returned angry and different. In addition, a rift developed between Christos and Nikos. Now, when Christos is kidnapped on the eve of one of the biggest deals in his career, Thea (with help from childhood friend and colleague, Rif Asker) works hard to bring him home. Nikos seems to be trying to assist Thea--or does he really want Christos dead? In this fast-paced series opener, Howe gives the reader a story with non-stop action and intrigue and a likable main character in Thea.  Give to readers who enjoyed Taylor Stevens' excellent thriller The Informationist.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Psychiatrist David and his beautiful wife, Adele, move to London to try and put the past behind them. However, after David kisses his receptionist, Louise, and appears to restrict Adele's movements by checking in with her a couple of times a day and watching her spending habits, their relationship seems to be heading in the same awful direction as before. When Louise and Adele become friends without David's knowledge, the triangle of their relationships becomes even more complex and disturbing.  Is Louise just a pawn--and can she really trust either David or Adele? Behind Her Eyes is a fast-paced novel that will appeal to readers of The Girl on the Train. It also has a truly unexpected ending.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

In 1863, sixteen-year-old Placidia agrees to marry Gryffth Hockaday after knowing him for a very short time. He is a soldier on leave, so while he goes back to fight for the Confederacy, she travels to his South Carolina farm to look after it and be a mother to his young son, Charles. Being alone and isolated, living with only the slaves and no other family leaves Placidia vulnerable. When Gryffth comes home after the war is over, he finds that she has been accused of having a child while he was gone and then murdering the baby. Placidia finds herself arrested, in jail, without her husband's support. What really happened while Gryffth was gone? The Second Mrs. Hockaday is a perfect read for those who enjoy historical fiction (especially Sandra Dallas) that highlights the everyday lives of women.

Monday, January 23, 2017

My Favorite Books of 2016

The books I loved most last year were all mysteries or thrillers.

In alphabetical order, by author:

The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney

This Edgar award-winning novel featured several memorable characters that are still vivid in my mind more than six months later.

Home by Harlan Coben

Coben has never appeared on my list before, but he consistently writes page turners that are extremely hard not to gulp down in more than a few sittings.

The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly

Sorry, Bosch still remains, after all these years, probably my favorite series character.

Thursday's Children by Nicci French

This fourth book featuring Freida Klein is one of the best.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Dry by Jane Harper

When Aaron Falk gets word that his best friend from childhood, Luke Hadler, has been murdered, along with Hadler's wife, Karen and six-year-old son, Billy, Falk travels back to the small town of Kiewarra to attend their funerals. Aaron left Kiewarra twenty years ago under a black cloud after a good friend of Aaron's and Luke's, Ellie, was found dead of an apparent suicide. At the time, many believed that Aaron was responsible, and even now, many still hold that view. With Luke the prime suspect in his family's death and with questions still lingering about Ellie's, Falk decides to stay in town for a bit to try and clear his and Luke's names. The Dry is a gripping debut novel with a great sense of place and two intriguing mysteries. I do wish the book were longer, to allow for more character development. A sure bet for those looking for a new thriller writer.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis

Best-selling novelist and professor Thomas Huston has fled his home, leaving behind the bloodied bodies of his wife and three children. On the run and suspected of murder, he doesn't know what to do. Sergeant Ryan DeMarco of the Pennsylvania State Police recently had become friends with Huston and doesn't believe he's a killer. Leading the investigation, DeMarco hopes they will find Huston alive and unravel the mystery of who killed the Huston family. However, DeMarco has his own demons that threaten his task. Two Days Gone is a fast-paced tale of secrets and jealousy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

As a professor of Forensic Archaeology, Ruth Galloway is called to a underground tunnel where some bones have been found by a surveyor. Ruth determines that they are human bones and they appear to have been boiled, which is odd.  Around the same time, a local homeless man, Eddie, reports to DCI Harry Nelson that a friend named Barbara has gone missing. Like Eddie, she lives on the streets. Could there be some connection between Barbara's disappearance and the bones Ruth found? In this latest series mystery, Griffiths continues the personal stories of Ruth and her friends from the police force. While the mystery in The Chalk Pit is not especially compelling, it's still good to spend time with the characters. It will be published in May.

The Old Man by Thomas Perry

For thirty-five years, Dan Chase has lived quietly in Vermont, raising a daughter and happily married until his wife died ten years ago. Chase has kept himself mentally and physically sharp waiting for the day when someone discovers who he really is and comes to kill him. That day is now. All those years ago, Chase delivered $20 million for the CIA to a man named Faris Hamzah, who was supposed to give the money to Libyan insurgents. Instead, Hamzah kept the money for himself. Chase stole it back, and when he tried to get in touch with his superiors, they cut him off completely. Chase had no choice, but to disappear. Now on the run, trying to outwit and overpower those who are coming after him, it's a cat and mouse game to see who comes out on top. The Old Man is a extremely satisfying fast-paced thriller perfect for a cold winter's day.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Hollow Men by Rob McCarthy

In his job working as a doctor for the London Metropolitan Police, Harry Kent is called to the scene of a hostage situation. Teenager Solomon Idris is holed up in a fast food restaurant with a gun and appears really sick, so the authorities want Harry to go in and assess his condition. While in there, Solomon reveals that he has taken everyone hostage because of Keisha, but before he can reveal more, Solomon is critically injured. Harry along with DI Frances Noble finds himself delving into Solomon's life to find out what would cause him to commit such a desperate act. Along the way, Harry's life, along with others', are put in serious danger as the truth is uncovered. While The Hollow Men, the first book in a projected trilogy featuring Harry Kent, isn't a police procedural, its frame and pacing make it feel like one. It's also a good choice for readers who enjoy British mystery novels and are looking for a new author.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

In 1940 in the small town of Chilbury, Kent, the vicar has disbanded the village's choir, since almost all the men have gone off to fight in the war. But the women, lead by newcomer Primrose Trent, start the Chilbury Ladies' Choir. Taking place over six months and told from four characters' points of view, the story gives the reader a close up view of what it was like living in coastal England during World War II.  Mrs. Tilling, a widow, has just sent her son, David, off to war. Lonely, she finds a new purpose and strength. Meanwhile, midwife Edwina Paltry is not entirely honest and is out to make some quick money. Thirteen-year-old Kitty and her beautiful older sister Venetia, from the wealthy Winthrop family, bicker and dream of finding love. The Chilbury Ladies' Choir is a heartwarming tale great for readers who enjoyed The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It will be published next month.