A Fire in the Night

A Fire in the Night by Christopher Swann

Published:  September 2021 – Crooked Lane Books

Finished copy courtesy of the publisher

Description:

Nick Anthony has retreated to the North Carolina mountains to mourn the untimely death of his wife. Once a popular professor, Nick just wants to be left alone with his grief. But when his estranged brother and sister-in-law die in a house fire, a stunned Nick learns he has a niece, Annalise, who is missing. 

At the scene of the crime, the men who set the fire have realized Annalise, and the information they are looking for, got away. Feverish and exhausted, she stumbles onto her uncle’s porch, throwing Nick into the middle of the mystery of her parents’ death and the dangerous criminals hunting her down. 

Hired to retrieve the stolen information at any price, private military contractor Cole and his team track Annalise to Nick’s cabin. But Nick has a hidden past of his own—and more than a few deadly tricks up his sleeve. (publisher)

My take:

Nick Anthony is still reeling from the loss of his wife to cancer. When a young teen knocks on his door he finds out he has a niece – a niece who is on the run from the people who murdered her parents (Nick’s estranged brother and wife). She needs Nick’s help and he’ll find out if he’s up to the challenge. A Fire in the Night is a compelling page-turner that left me breathless. There are mercenaries, spies, characters to cheer for, and a lovely setting that I want to visit one day. When I turned the last page I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Nick and Annalise which is always my sign of a good read. A Fire in the Night is the first of Christopher Swann’s books I’ve read and I look forward to reading more. 


About the author:

Christopher Swann is a novelist and high school English teacher. A graduate of Woodberry Forest School in Virginia, he earned his Ph.D. in creative writing from Georgia State University. He has been a Townsend Prize finalist, longlisted for the Southern Book Prize, and twice been a finalist for a Georgia Author of the Year award. He lives with his wife and two sons in Atlanta, where he is the English department chair at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School.


 

When Christmas Comes

When Christmas Comes by Andrew Klavan

Expected Pub. date:  November 2, 2021

Review copy courtesy of Mysterious Press

Description:

After a confession of murder, a sleuthing English teacher will need a Christmas miracle to prove a condemned man innocent

Colorful Christmas lights dapple the family homes in the idyllic lakeside town of Sweet Haven when Jennifer Dean, a young librarian at the local elementary school, is brutally murdered. There are witnesses and her boyfriend Travis Blake confesses to the crime… but something doesn’t quite add up. Blake is a third generation Army Ranger, awarded the Silver Star for his heroism in Afghanistan—how could a beloved son of this tight-knit burgh commit such a grisly deed?

As a community of military families a few miles down the road from an Army base, no one in Sweet Haven wants to investigate a war hero like Blake, not even the top brass at the police department. In steps Cameron Winter, a rugged and lonesome English professor haunted by the ghosts of his own Christmas past, whose former lover asks him to prove Blake innocent. The Sweet Haven murder reverberates in his mind, echoing a horrific yuletide memory from his youth, and Winter knows there are darker powers at play here than a simple domestic dispute. If he can solve this small-town mystery, just maybe he can find peace from his inner demons as well.

The thirty-sixth novel by two-time Edgar Award winner Andrew Klavan, When Christmas Comes is a seasonal tale of tradition, family, and murder; its chilling twists are best experienced curled up beside a burning Yule log. (publisher)

My take:  When a former love interest of our college professor requests his help in an investigation of her client he can’t resist saying yes. Known to have an innate ability to see details others miss, Cameron Winter is someone to have on the case. He’s not without his own demons which I felt gave him compassion despite the melancholy that seems to envelop him. But melancholy does seem to insert itself into the holidays for many people, doesn’t it? At any rate, Cameron has good reason to feel that way. It wasn’t all melancholy. There were a couple of times when I appropriately laughed out loud. Depending on how you read short mysteries this one could probably be read in an afternoon but I took my time and read a chapter or two a day. It’s quite descriptive and the setting is cinematic – I think that Klavan should write the screenplay and maybe direct it. That’s how detailed it read for me. I enjoy a Hallmark-esque novel at this time of year but When Christmas Comes was an entertaining departure. Thanks to Mysterious Press for sending the ARC. I’m glad I had the opportunity to try this author.


About the author:

Andrew Klavan (b. 1954) is a highly successful author of thrillers and hard-boiled mysteries. Born in New York City, Klavan was raised on Long Island and attended college at the University of California at Berkeley. He published his first novel, Face of the Earth, in 1977, and continued writing mysteries throughout the eighties, finding critical recognition when The Rain (1988) won an Edgar Award for best new paperback.

Besides his crime fiction, Klavan has distinguished himself as an author of supernatural thrillers, most notably Don’t Say a Word (1991), which was made into a film starring Michael Douglas. Besides his fiction, Klavan writes regular opinion pieces for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other national publications.


 

Release Day Spotlight: How to Kill Your Best Friend

How to Kill Your Best Friend by Lexie Elliott

Description: (content provided by the publisher)

Sweet Bronwyn, fun-loving Georgie, and bold-and-beautiful Lissa were inseparable at university. The trio added Adam and Duncan to their crowd after joining the swim team, and even years later, their pastime unites them across time and long distance. But now, nearing 40 years old, the old pals find themselves gathering in tropical paradise for a more tragic circumstance: Lissa’s memorial service.

Nobody knows exactly what happened on the fateful night that Lissa went out for a swim at Kanu Cove and never returned. Lissa knew the spot well―after all, she and her husband, Jem, had been living on the lush tropical resort they newly owned together. And everyone on the island knows that something dangerous is rumored to lurk beneath the crystal-clear waters of the Cove.

So why would Lissa go for a swim at Kanu Cove, alone, at night? Is it likely that a champion swimmer really drowned―or was something more sinister at play?

The peaceful weekend in memory of a lost friend turns chilling as trouble starts brewing in paradise, and violent events begin happening at the hotel. Bronwyn and Georgie are quick to suspect that a member of the friend group may be up to something deadly. Lissa’s death was only the beginning….

About the author:

Lexie Elliott graduated from Oxford University, where she obtained a doctorate in theoretical physics. A keen sportswoman, she swam and played waterpolo at university, and later swam the English Channel solo. She works in fund management in London, where she lives with her husband and two sons.

Christmas in July – Spotlight

I’ve accepted a few Christmas review galleys that will publish in September and October so I thought I’d shine a spotlight on them today. I’ll hold off on reading for a while but have to say I’m looking forward to each book!

Description

From May Kay Andrews, the New York Times bestselling author of Hello, Summer, comes a novella celebrating the magic of Christmas and second chances in The Santa Suit.

When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love—but Ivy didn’t bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk, that it’s a full-time job sorting through all of it. 

At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit—beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it’s from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Who wrote the note? Did the man ever come home? What mysteries did the Rose family hold?

Ivy’s quest brings her into the community, at a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone and nurse her wounds. But the magic of Christmas makes miracles happen, and Ivy just might find more than she ever thought possible: a welcoming town, a family reunited, a mystery solved, and a second chance at love.

Description

The reigning legendary queens of Regency Romance, bestselling authors Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney, deck the halls with this delightful Christmas collection of three sparkling holiday interconnected romances, as stranded travelers find merriment, mistletoe, and holiday romance awaiting at a quaint country inn…
 

THE UNEXPECTED GIFT by Madeline Hunter
Jenna Waverly has closed her inn, anticipating a blissfully quiet Christmas, until a snowstorm brings the first of several strangers to her property. Lucas Avonwood, as charming as he is secretive, is on a mission to track down a scoundrel, but the inn’s lovely owner is giving him a more compelling reason to stay…

WHEN WE FINALLY KISS GOOD NIGHT
 by Sabrina Jeffries
When Flora Younger first met Konrad Juncker, she thought she’d found her match, only to have her hopes dashed. Konrad is now a famous playwright whose plays Flora has secretly panned in reviews. But a chance meeting in a secluded inn may help them rewrite this star-crossed romance…

WHEN STRANGERS MEET by Mary Jo Putney
Kate Mcleod is shocked to find that her fellow guest in the snowbound inn is the dashing soldier who may or may not be her husband. Daniel Faringdon barely remembers that long-ago night when he rescued her from disaster, but the desire they discover now will be impossible to forget, or to ignore . . .

Description

Maybe this Christmas can thaw his frozen heart—and heal hers.

Hollywood starlet Tia Beckett knows one moment can change your life. Her career had been on the fast track before a near-fatal accident left her with a debilitating facial scar. Certain her A-lister dreams are over, she agrees to house-sit at her producer’s secluded estate in Silver Springs. It’s the escape from the limelight Tia’s been craving, until she discovers she’s not the only houseguest for the holidays. And her handsome new roomie is impossible to ignore.

Artist Seth Turner has good reason to keep his distance. Losing his wife after only a few years of marriage has left a deep scar, even if he is still happy to spend a semester teaching art classes at the New Horizons Boys Ranch for troubled teens. Despite nursing her own wounds, Tia finds her curiosity piqued by enigmatic Seth, whom she recognizes as something of a kindred soul. Maybe spending Christmas together could be another game changer for both of them—this time, for good.

Description

“[Thayne’s] books are wonderfully romantic, feel-good reads that end with me sighing over the last pages.”—Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author.

Celebrate the season with this sparkling holiday romance, perfect for fans of Debbie Macomber, Dorthea Benton Frank, and Nancy Thayer!

Ranch manager Annie McCade thought her twin niece and nephew could join her at the Angel View Ranch for Christmas with her absent employer being none the wiser. But when the ranch’s owner, Tate Sheridan, shows up out of the blue, Annie’s plans are upended. Soon she finds herself helping Tate make a Christmas to remember for his grieving and fractured extended family.

Sleigh Bells Ring is the latest heartwarming, festive Christmas story by New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne.

Description:

After a confession of murder, a sleuthing English teacher will need a Christmas miracle to prove a condemned man innocent

Colorful Christmas lights dapple the family homes in the idyllic lakeside town of Sweet Haven when Jennifer Dean, a young librarian at the local elementary school, is brutally murdered. There are witnesses and her boyfriend Travis Blake confesses to the crime… but something doesn’t quite add up. Blake is a third generation Army Ranger, awarded the Silver Star for his heroism in Afghanistan―how could a beloved son of this tight-knit burgh commit such a grisly deed?

As a community of military families a few miles down the road from an Army base, no one in Sweet Haven wants to investigate a war hero like Blake, not even the top brass at the police department. In steps Cameron Winter, a rugged and lonesome English professor haunted by the ghosts of his own Christmas past, whose former lover asks him to prove Blake innocent. The Sweet Haven murder reverberates in his mind, echoing a horrific yuletide memory from his youth, and Winter knows there are darker powers at play here than a simple domestic dispute. If he can solve this small-town mystery, just maybe he can find peace from his inner demons as well.

The thirty-sixth novel by two-time Edgar Award winner Andrew Klavan, When Christmas Comes is a seasonal tale of tradition, family, and murder; its chilling twists are best experienced curled up beside a burning Yule log.

The Last Commandment

Description:

A Scotland Yard detective tracks a serial killer from London to New York City

Christmastime in London. When three seemingly unconnected victims are murdered with matching sequential Roman numerals carved into their foreheads, Metropolitan Police Commander Austin Grant finds his answer in one of the last places he’d expect: the Holy Bible. Each of the deaths correspond to a transgression of one of the Ten Commandments, and Grant must find the killer before the remaining Commandments are commemorated with homicides.

Unfortunately for Grant, the next victim with a number on their forehead turns up not in London, but across the pond at the iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, turning this English murder case into a transatlantic manhunt spanning two global metropolises, each with its own rich history and culture. Commander Grant must team up with a charming NYPD detective named John Frankel, as well as his own estranged daughter Rachel—a cunning investigative reporter with conflicting feelings about her father.

The Last Commandment is the third novel by acclaimed screenwriter and producer Scott Shepherd, whose decades of television writing experience shine through in the swift pace and character-driven storytelling of this devilishly fun, page-turning mystery. Flipping the “buddy cop” story on its head with a touch of Old Testament fatalism, this twisty tale leads from the seedy back-alleys of Piccadilly to the Grande Dame hotels of Midtown Manhattan and back again. (from the publisher)

My take:

I’m a casual and interested reader of the Mystery genre so when Mysterious Press offered a copy of THE LAST COMMANDMENT I happily accepted. And I’m so glad I did. From the first page I was caught up in the race to find a macabre serial killer (aren’t they all??).

Scott Shepherd’s screenwriting skills shone in this well-paced novel. The principal characters were engaging and had me looking forward to getting back to the book each time life interrupted my reading. I loved the ‘both sides of the Pond’ settings and plot as well as the exciting denouement. As I turned the last page I was hoping for another case for Austin Grant and John Frankel.

About the author:

Scott Shepherd is a veteran writer/producer/show-runner with years of experience running network series; his production and screenwriting credits include The Equalizer, Miami Vice, The Outer Limits, Haven, and Quantum Leap. Born in New York and raised in Los Angeles, he currently teaches television writing at the University of Texas in Austin. 

Praise for THE LAST COMMANDMENT:

“Scott Shepherd is a dazzling storyteller, whose authentic and richly textured characters and clever, pulsating plotting captivate. The Last Commandment is a riveting and wondrously satisfying thriller with that all too rare commodity: abundant heart and soul.” – May Cobb, author of THE HUNTING WIVES

“An enthralling mystery that will hook you on the very first page and keep you turning until the last. Shepherd’s signature storytelling is on full display in The Last Commandment.” – Karin Slaughter, New York Times bestselling author of PIECES OF HER

“The intensifying, suspenseful investigation ends in a shocking, made-for-TV reveal…The fast-paced story and twisted villain will appeal to fans of crime dramas.” – Library Journal

“A fast-paced tale that weds its golden-age homage to some serious violence. Sinners beware.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A real corker […] Good idea, expertly executed.” – Booklist

“Written in taut, tight chapters that land like a hail of bullets. You’ll race through this story.” – Brian Freeman, New York Times bestselling author of THE DEEP, DEEP SNOW

“Scott Shepherd is a marvelous storyteller, and The Last Commandment is further proof of his abilities. Smart, funny, and layered with a terrific sense of time and place, the story rockets from one twist to the next while always deepening the questions of family, trust, and the weight of old sins. A gem of a thriller, not to be missed.” – Michael Kortya, New York Times bestselling author of NEVER FAR AWAY

“A twisty, turns, globetrotting tale filled with mystery and suspense.” – F.Paul Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of the REPAIRMAN JACK series.

“Ingeniously constructed and breathlessly told, The Last Commandment is Scott Shepherd at his gripping best.” – Charles Ardai, publisher of Hard Case Crime

Excerpt: Kill All Your Darlings

Excerpt:

Now that it’s out, I feel agitated, restless. My thoughts are a jumble. “Do you want a drink or something?” I ask. “I think I need bourbon.”

“Sure,” she says. “I always drank when you paid.”

I go back out to the kitchen, Grendel at my heels. It’s cold out, and I’d turned the heat down when I left the house. But I feel flushed, sweaty. Almost like I have a fever. I open the corner cabinet and take down a bottle of Rowan’s Creek and two glasses. When Jake was born, twenty years ago, Emily’s brother gave me a bottle of Rowan’s Creek, so whenever I drink it, I think of my son. My hand shakes as I pour.

Grendel starts eating. I hear his chomping in the corner. 

“You were drinking a lot when I last saw you.”

I turn toward Madeline. She’s standing in the doorway from the living room, leaning against the jamb.

“I was,” I say. “I’ve cut back. A lot. I had to.” I hand her the glass, trying to control the trembling. “But I think I could use one or maybe two tonight.”

“I guess it isn’t every day that a ghost shows up in your house.”

I swallow and lean back against the counter. “They looked for you, Madeline. Searches all over campus and town. It was on the news. Some people thought you just up and ran off on a whim. Some students do that. Impulse trips.”

“Some kids can afford to do that.”

“Right. But they looked in your apartment. You left all your books and clothes behind. You were an excellent student, an honors student, a few months away from getting a degree. And you stopped coming to class. The police questioned everybody who’d had any contact with you, including me. Especially me because we were all at the bar that night.”

“And I left Dubliners right after you did.”

“Right. Some of this is fuzzy. How I got home . . . how I even man- aged to get my key in the lock and get inside . . . I kind of think you came with me . . . but I don’t know how far . . .”

“Out in the living room you were talking about the book,” she says, arms crossed, glass in front of her. “After you read it and wanted to talk to me and I was gone.”

I finish my first glass and pour another. This is it, I tell myself. Just two drinks.

“You know I have to publish to get tenure,” I say. “That’s the way to survive in academia.”

“I’ve heard about that.” “Publish or perish, they call it.” “It sounds awfully bleak.”

“It can be,” I say. “And I hadn’t published anything in the seven years I’d been here. That book of stories AutumnSunsetcame out when I was still in graduate school, so it didn’t count. If you don’t get tenure, you get fired. And if I didn’t get tenure here, I probably wouldn’t get hired anywhere else. They’d see I failed to produce, and no one would touch me. Why would they want a middle-aged guy with a huge blank spot in his publication record?”

“You could tell them about your family,” Madeline says.

“Sure. And the university here gave me an extra year for bereavement. I still couldn’t produce a book or even a few stories.” Grendel appears to be finished eating. He slurps some water, shakes his head, and goes back out to his perch on the couch. “Dr. White, the department chair, is a pretty good friend. And he really looked out for me. But he could only do so much. And he was really on me, reminding me what was at stake. He kept telling me, ‘Just produce something, Connor.’”

“No pressure, right? Hurry up and write an entire book while you’re grieving.”

“Life goes on at some point.” I drink some more. “The world doesn’t stop forever. Six months had passed after you disappeared. Six months. No one really said it out loud, but everybody was thinking the same thing. After a few days—a week, really—people were thinking the worst had happened. That you weren’t coming back. That you were dead. Murdered. Even your mom said it in an interview she did with the local paper. Does she know you’re—”

“I’ll call her soon,” Madeline says, her voice sharp. “You just finish telling me about the book and how all of this happened.”

We’ve reversed roles. She’s asking the questions. She’s playing the part of authority figure. And I feel compelled to answer her and give a full accounting of myself.

“I had your book,” I say. “Almost all handwritten. And you were gone. And I had an agent interested in my writing from years ago, although I wasn’t even sure she still knew I existed. I took your handwrit- ten book and retyped it on my computer.”

“You gave me a hard time about turning in a handwritten draft. I told you my computer died.”

“It turned out to be to my advantage. I made some of the revisions as I went along. I kept telling myself I wasn’t going to send it anywhere, that I was just going to type the book out as an exercise, a way to get my own creative juices flowing again. But the deadline was coming up for my tenure review. And I really wasn’t sure how I would handle it if I lost this job. On top of everything else, to be unemployed with nowhere to go.”

Madeline shows concern as she listens. She’s nodding, encouraging me to keep talking. And it feels good, really good, to finally unburden myself of the secret I’ve been carrying around for the past eighteen months. Even if I am unburdening myself to the person most directly harmed by my actions.

“It’s so hard to get a book published,” I say. “What are the chances for anyone? It was a whim. A Hail Mary play. But my agent loved the story. And within a few weeks, an editor loved it. And bought it. I kept telling myself to speak up, to tell them it wasn’t mine. But the train just kept gathering momentum and . . . I have to be honest . . . after every- thing that had gone wrong for me, after all my struggles with writing, to hear people saying such nice things felt really, really good.”

I look at her, and she swallows some of her bourbon. The look on her face has shifted, from concern and understanding to something I can’t really read. Her eyes look flat and cold, pale marbles staring back at me.

“I’m sorry, Madeline,” I say. “I really am.”

She takes her time responding, and then says, “Don’t worry. I didn’t show up here without a plan for how you’ll make this all right.”

“Excerpted from KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS by David Bell, published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2021 by David Bell”

Her Dark Lies

Her Dark Lies by J.T. Ellison

Published: March 2021 – Mira

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Jutting from sparkling turquoise waters off the Italian coast, Isle Isola is an idyllic setting for a wedding. In the majestic cliff-top villa owned by the wealthy Compton family, up-and-coming artist Claire Hunter will marry handsome, charming Jack Compton, surrounded by close family, intimate friends…and a host of dark secrets.

From the moment Claire sets foot on the island, something seems amiss. Skeletal remains have just been found. There are other, newer disturbances, too. Menacing texts. A ruined wedding dress. And one troubling shadow hanging over Claire’s otherwise blissful relationship—the strange mystery surrounding Jack’s first wife.

Then a raging storm descends, the power goes out—and the real terror begins… (publisher)

My take:  A wedding at the groom’s family home on an island off the coast of Italy. Doesn’t that sound lovely? Claire is set to become part of the Comptom family and live happily ever after. When she arrives she gets the feeling that things aren’t as they seem. From sightings of ghostly images, to troubling things happening all around (her ruined wedding dress, for one), to an ever increasing body count, Claire is wondering what she’s getting into. The huge home with it’s unsettling staff of long-time employees help create a gothic tone to the novel and made me wonder if this wedding would actually take place. It seems everyone has secrets and a bit of an axe to grind. There’s plenty of action too – J.T. Ellison had me holding my breath with the exciting conclusion!


About the author:

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 25 novels, and the EMMY® award winning co-host of the literary show A WORD ON WORDS. With millions of books in print, her work has won critical acclaim, prestigious awards, and has been published in 28 countries. She lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.

Social Links:

Website: https://www.jtellison.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JTEllison14/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thrillerchick 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thrillerchick 

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/shop/jtellison 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jtellison 

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/j-t-ellison 

Mailing List: https://www.jtellison.com/subscribe 

 

Buy Links:

Spotlight: The Bounty

The Bounty by Janet Evanovich and Steve Hamilton

Pub. date:  March 23, 2021 – Atria Books

Content courtesy of the publisher

Description:

FBI agent Kate O’Hare and charming criminal Nick Fox race against time to uncover a buried train filled with Nazi gold in this thrilling adventure in the “romantic and gripping” (Good Housekeeping) Fox and O’Hare series from the #1 New York Timesbestselling author Janet Evanovich.

Straight as an arrow special agent Kate O’Hare and international criminal Nick Fox have brought down some of the biggest bad guys out there. But now they face their most dangerous foe yet—a vast, shadowy international organization known only as the Brotherhood.

Directly descended from the Vatican Bank priests who served Hitler during World War II, the Brotherhood is on a frantic search for a lost train loaded with $30 billion in Nazi gold, untouched for over seventy-five years somewhere in the mountains of Eastern Europe.

Kate and Nick know that there is only one man who can find the fortune and bring down the Brotherhood—the same man who taught Nick everything he knows—his father, Quentin. As the stakes get higher, they must also rely on Kate’s own father, Jake, who shares his daughter’s grit and stubbornness. Too bad they can never agree on anything.

From a remote monastery in the Swiss Alps to the lawless desert of the Western Sahara, Kate, Nick, and the two men who made them who they are today must crisscross the world in a desperate scramble to stop their deadliest foe in the biggest adventure of their lives.


ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Over the last twenty-five years, Janet Evanovich has written a staggering twenty-three #1 New York Times bestsellers in the Stephanie Plum series. In addition to the Plum novels, Janet has coauthored the New York Times bestselling Fox and O’Hare series (including The Big Kahuna with her son, Peter Evanovich), the Knight and Moon series, the Lizzy and Diesel series, the Alexandra Barnaby novels, and the graphic novel, Troublemaker (with her daughter, Alex Evanovich).

 

Steve Hamilton is the two-time Edgar Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of the Alex    McKnight crime series, the Nick Mason series, and The Lock Artist. He has either won or been nominated for the Shamus Award, Barry Award, Anthony Award, Dashiell Hammett Prize, American Library Association Alex Award, CWA Gold Dagger, and the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger.

 

 

Praise for Evanovich and Hamilton:

“The duo of Evanovich and Hamilton, each best-selling authors in their own right, start the action on page one and keep up the pace throughout. The dynamic, often-humorous storytelling won’t let readers out of its grip, and there’s a compelling romantic subplot, to boot. Fans of Evanovich won’t need any convincing here, but also offer this one to fans of The Da Vinci Code, as ancient symbols and academic sleuthing play a strong part in the unraveling of the mystery.”

Booklist (starred review)


“Fans of Janet Evanovich will not be disappointed; her writing blends perfectly with the award-winning mastery of Hamilton (“Alex McKnight” thrillers). Mission: Impossible meets National Treasure in this winner that one hopes will be the first of many more adventures and more collaboration with Hamilton.”

Library Journal


THE BOUNTY by Janet Evanovich and Steve Hamilton

       Atria Books | Hardcover | On-sale: March 23, 2021 | 320 pages | ISBN: 9781982157135, $28.00

eBook ISBN: 9781982157159, $14.99 | www.evanovich.com

Facebook: @JanetEvanovich  555k fans | Twitter: @janetevanovich  43K followers | Instagram: @janetevanovich  18.6K followers


 

Aftershock

Aftershock by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

Published:  January 19, 2021 – Hanover Square Press

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

When an earthquake strikes San Francisco, forensics expert Jessie Teska faces her biggest threat yet in this explosive new mystery from the New York Times bestselling authors of Working Stiff and First Cut.

At first glance, the death appears to be an accident. The body is located on a construction site under what looks like a collapse beam. But when Dr. Jessie Teska arrives on the scene, she notices the tell-tale signs of a staged death. The victim has been murdered. A rising star in the San Francisco forensics world, Jessie is ready to unravel the case, help bring the murderer to justice, and prevent him from potentially striking again.

But when a major earthquake strikes San Francisco right at Halloween, Jessie and the rest of the city are left reeling. And even if she emerges from the rubble, there’s no guaranteeing she’ll make it out alive.

With their trademark blend of propulsive prose, deft plotting and mordant humor, this electrifying new installment in the Jessie Teska Mystery series offers the highest stakes yet.  (publisher)

My take:  This is the second book in the Dr. Jessie Teska Mysteries. I didn’t read the first but felt the authors did a good job catching me up with pertinent details. A San Francisco medical examiner, Dr. Jessie has her hands full when crime details on her newest case don’t match up with the evidence. An earthquake throws a wrench into things and then her latest romantic interest seems to be losing interest in her! I liked this novel but didn’t love it. For me, it suffered from pacing and perhaps too many plot directions. Too much for me but I’m not a hardcore procedural reader. Would I give the next book in the series a try? Sure. I enjoyed the offbeat character we have in Dr. Jessie. She has an interesting background and I like her unwillingness to suffer fools. I want to see where it all takes her.


About the authors:

Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell are the New York Times bestselling co-authors of Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, and the novel First Cut. Dr. Melinek studied at Harvard and UCLA, was a medical examiner in San Francisco for nine years, and today works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland and as CEO of PathologyExpert Inc. T.J. Mitchell, her husband, is a writer with an English degree from Harvard, and worked in the film industry before becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad to their children.

Social links:

TWITTER:

FB: @DrWorkingStiff

Insta:

Goodreads


Buy links:



 

Lies, Lies, Lies (Excerpt)

Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks

Published:  August 2020 – MIRA

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Book Summary:

LIES LIES LIES (MIRA Trade Paperback; August 4, 2020; $17.99) centers on the story of Simon and Daisy Barnes. To the outside world, Simon and Daisy look like they have a perfect life. They have jobs they love, an angelic, talented daughter, a tight group of friends… and they have secrets too. Secrets that will find their way to the light, one way or the other.

Daisy and Simon spent almost a decade hoping for the child that fate cruelly seemed to keep from them. It wasn’t until, with their marriage nearly in shambles and Daisy driven to desperation, little Millie was born. Perfect in every way, healing the Barnes family into a happy unit of three. Ever indulgent Simon hopes for one more miracle, one more baby. But his doctor’s visit shatters the illusion of the family he holds so dear.

Now, Simon has turned to the bottle to deal with his revelation and Daisy is trying to keep both of their secrets from spilling outside of their home. But Daisy’s silence and Simon’s habit begin to build until they set off a catastrophic chain of events that will destroy life as they know it.


Prologue

May 1976

Simon was six years old when he first tasted beer.

He was bathed and ready for bed wearing soft pyjamas, even though it was light outside; still early. Other kids were in the street, playing on their bikes, kicking a football. He could hear them through the open window, although he couldn’t see them because the blinds were closed. His daddy didn’t like the evening light glaring on the TV screen, his mummy didn’t like the neighbours looking in; keeping the room dark was something they agreed on.

His mummy didn’t like a lot of things: wasted food, messy bedrooms, Daddy driving too fast, his sister throwing a tantrum in public. Mummy liked ‘having standards’. He didn’t know what that meant, exactly. There was a standard-bearer at Cubs; he was a big boy and got to wave the flag at the front of the parade, but his mummy didn’t have a flag, so it was unclear. What was clear was that she didn’t like him to be in the street after six o’clock. She thought it was common. He wasn’t sure what common was either, something to do with having fun. She bathed him straight after tea and made him put on pyjamas, so that he couldn’t sneak outside.

He didn’t know what his daddy didn’t like, just what he did like. His daddy was always thirsty and liked a drink. When he was thirsty he was grumpy and when he had a drink, he laughed a lot. His daddy was an accountant and like to count in lots of different ways: “a swift one’, “a cold one’, and ‘one more for the road’. Sometimes Simon though his daddy was lying when he said he was an accountant; most likely, he was a pirate or a wizard. He said to people, “Pick your poison’, which sounded like something pirates might say, and he liked to drink, “the hair of a dog’ in the morning at the weekends, which was definitely a spell. Simon asked his mummy about it once and she told him to stop being silly and never to say those silly things outside the house.

He had been playing with his Etch A Sketch, which was only two months old and was a birthday present. Having seen it advertised on TV, Simon had begged for it, but it was disappointing. Just two silly knobs making lines that went up and down, side to side. Limited. Boring. He was bored. The furniture in the room was organised so all of it was pointing at the TV which was blaring but not interesting. The news. His parents liked watching the news, but he didn’t. His father was nursing a can of the grown ups’ pop that Simon was never allowed. The pop that smelt like nothing else, fruity and dark and tempting.

“Can I have a sip?” he asked.

“Don’t be silly, Simon,” his mother interjected. “You’re far too young. Beer is for daddies.” He thought she said ‘daddies’, but she might have said ‘baddies’.

His father put the can to his lips, glared at his mother, cold. A look that said, “Shut up woman, this is man’s business.” His mother had blushed, looked away as though she couldn’t stand to watch, but she held her tongue. Perhaps she thought the bitterness wouldn’t be to his taste, that one sip would put him off. He didn’t like the taste. But he enjoyed the collusion. He didn’t know that word then, but he instinctively understood the thrill. He and his daddy drinking grown ups’ pop! His father had looked satisfied when he swallowed back the first mouthful, then pushed for a second. He looked almost proud. Simon tasted the aluminium can, the snappy biting bitter bubbles and it lit a fuse.

After that, in the mornings, Simon would sometimes get up early, before Mummy or Daddy or his little sister, and he’d dash around the house before school, tidying up. He’d open the curtains, empty the ashtrays, clear away the discarded cans. Invariably his mother went to bed before his father. Perhaps she didn’t want to have to watch him drink himself into a stupor every night, perhaps she hoped denying him an audience might take away some of the fun for him, some of the need. She never saw just how bad the place looked by the time his father staggered upstairs to bed. Simon knew it was important that she didn’t see that particular brand of chaos.

Occasionally there would be a small amount of beer left in one of the cans. Simon would slurp it back. He found he liked the flat, forbidden, taste just as much as the fizzy hit of fresh beer. He’d throw open a window, so the cigarette smoke and the secrets could drift away. When his mother came downstairs, she would smile at him and thank him for tidying up.

“You’re a good boy, Simon,” she’d say with some relief. And no idea.

When there weren’t dregs to be slugged, he sometimes opened a new can. Threw half of it down his throat before eating his breakfast. His father never kept count.

Some people say their favourite smell is freshly baked bread, others say coffee or a campfire. From a very young age, few scents could pop Simon’s nerve endings like the scent of beer.

The promise of it.

 

Excerpted from Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks, Copyright © 2020 by Adele Parks. 

Published by MIRA Books


Author Bio: 

Adele Parks was born in Teesside, North-East England. Her first novel, Playing Away, was published in 2000 and since then she’s had seventeen international bestsellers, translated into twenty-six languages, including I Invited Her In. She’s been an Ambassador for The Reading Agency and a judge for the Costa. She’s lived in Italy, Botswana and London, and is now settled in Guildford, Surrey, with her husband, teenage son and cat.

photo credit:  Sekkides

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LIES LIES LIES

Author: Adele Parks

ISBN: 9780778360889

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

Publisher: MIRA Books


 

 

Behind The Red Door

Behind The Red Door by Megan Collins

Published:  August 4, 2020 – Atria

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

When Fern Douglas sees the news about Astrid Sullivan, a thirty-four-year-old missing woman from Maine, she is positive that she knows her. Fern’s husband is sure it’s because of Astrid’s famous kidnapping—and equally famous return—twenty years ago, but Fern has no memory of that, even though it happened an hour outside her New Hampshire hometown. And when Astrid appears in Fern’s recurring nightmare, one in which a girl reaches out to her, pleading, Fern fears that it’s not a dream at all, but a memory.

Back at her childhood home to help her father pack for a move, Fern purchases a copy of Astrid’s recently published memoir—which may have provoked her original kidnapper to abduct her again—and as she reads through its chapters and visits the people and places within it, she discovers more evidence that she has an unsettling connection to the missing woman. With the help of her psychologist father, Fern digs deeper, hoping to find evidence that her connection to Astrid can help the police locate her. But when Fern discovers more about her own past than she ever bargained for, the disturbing truth will change both of their lives forever. (publisher)

My take:  Fern Douglas is on summer break from her job as a school social worker. When her father calls and says he needs her help to pack up his house before his move to Florida she agrees. Fern is consumed by her anxiety on a good day but it is amplified when she returns to her home town. She hopes the new meds her doctor prescribed will start to be effective. Author Megan Collins explains the reason for Fern’s anxiety and I was definitely creeped out by pretty much everything. I’m not going into the details but will say if you enjoy a high creepiness factor it is here in spades. Fern is anxious about almost everything and can spiral from even minor triggers. I felt badly for her. That said, the good old unreliable narrator is alive and well in this novel and kept playing in the back of my mind as I read.

Fern also worries about having children – something her husband very much desires. The way Fern was raised, while not physically abusive, makes her uneasy about her ability to be a good parent but she has no doubt her husband (the opposite of her father) will be a wonderful father.

The story moves between present day and the years of Fern’s childhood (and the kidnapping of Astrid). Have her memories been repressed or are they imagined?  I wasn’t so sure about Fern. 

My final take: although I skimmed through a few parts of this book (that creep factor) I think fans of psychological thrillers will probably like it. It’s was different from others I’ve read in the genre in that it made me feel more anxious.


About the author:

Megan Collins is the author of The Winter Sister and Behind the Red Door. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University. She has taught creative writing at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and Central Connecticut State University, and she is the managing editor of 3Elements Review. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in many print and online journals, including Off the CoastSpillway, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Rattle. She lives in Connecticut.


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No One Saw

No One Saw by Beverly Long

Published:  June 2020 – MIRA

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Baywood police department detective A.L. McKittridge is no stranger to tough cases, but when five-year-old Emma Whitman disappears from her day care, there isn’t a single shred of evidence to go on. Neither the grandmother who dropped her off, nor the teacher whose care she was supposed to be in, can account for the missing child. There are no witnesses. No trace of where she might have gone. There’s only one thing A.L. and his partner, Rena Morgan, are sure of—somebody is lying.

With the clock ticking, A.L. and Rena are under extreme pressure as they discover their instincts are correct: all is not as it seems. The Whitmans are a family with many secrets, and A.L. and Rena will have to race to untangle a growing web of lies if they’re going to find the thread that leads them to Emma…before it’s too late. (publisher)

My take:  Baywood, WI police detective A.L. McKittridge is back to work after a relaxing California getaway with the woman in his life, Tess. He and his partner Rena are tasked with finding a missing five-year-old who disappeared from her day care center – a nightmare for everyone involved. I loved catching up with A.L. and Rena after meeting the two in book one, Ten Days Gone. Both are likable characters who deal with life just like everyone. A.L. is a divorced dad of a teenager. Rena is married and is dealing with fertility issues. Together they make a perfect detective team and play off each other in such a way that I’d want them on my side if I ever needed them. Beverly Long’s story moved along over the course of a few days and dealt out several suspects. I thought the resolution was interesting if abrupt. I can’t wait to see what case this detective duo will face next.


About the author:

Beverly Long’s writing career has spanned more than two decades and twenty novels, including TEN DAYS GONE, the first book of her A.L. McKittridge series. She writes romantic suspense with sexy heroes and smart heroines. She can often be found with her laptop in a coffee shop with a cafe au lait and anything made with dark chocolate by her side.

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The Request

The Request by David Bell

Published:  June 30, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Ryan Francis has it all—great job, wonderful wife, beautiful child—and he loves posting photos of his perfect life on social media. Until the night his friend Blake asks him to break into a woman’s home to retrieve incriminating items that implicate Blake in an affair. Ryan refuses to help, but when Blake threatens to reveal Ryan’s darkest secret—which could jeopardize everything in Ryan’s life—Ryan has no choice but to honor Blake’s request.

When he arrives at the woman’s home, Ryan is shocked to find her dead—and just as shocked to realize he knows her. Then his phone chimes, revealing a Facebook friend request from the woman. With police sirens rapidly approaching, Ryan flees, wondering why his friend was setting him up for murder.
 
Determined to keep his life intact and to clear his name, Ryan must find the real murderer—but solving the crime may lead him closer to home than he ever could have imagined. (publisher)

My take:  The Request is a story of what happens when the past doesn’t stay in the past. In these days of social media the past is only a click away. Ryan thought his friend Blake was one of those people you’re friends with during a certain time of your life. They were roommates in college and share a secret from those days. With a wife and new baby, life is good for Ryan – until Blake contacts him with a specific request. It’s a request Ryan can’t refuse if he wants things to stay the way they are. Ryan’s life might look perfect on Facebook but it could easily get very messy.

This was a twisty mystery! I loved the short chapters that kept me reading “just one more” until I finished (in one day). The Request is the first of David Bell’s books I’ve read and I look forward to checking out his backlist.


 

The Closer You Get

The Closer You Get by Mary Torjussen

Published:  April 2020 – Berkley

Book provided by the publisher; NetGalley

Description:

Coworkers Ruby and Harry are in love—but they’re married to other people. They decide to tell their spouses that their marriages are over and to start a new life together. Ruby has wanted to leave her controlling husband for a while, so she tells him she’s leaving and waits at the hotel where she and Harry are to meet. But Harry never shows up.

Suddenly, Ruby has lost everything. Harry won’t answer her calls, and she’s fired from her job. She finds a cheap apartment in a run-down part of town, all the while wondering what happened to Harry.

Just as Ruby thinks she’s hit rock bottom, strange and menacing things start to happen—someone is sneaking into her apartment, and someone is following her home late at night—and she is going to have to fight for her survival. (publisher)

My take:  I like a domestic suspense from time to time and thought The Closer You Get sounded like a good one. There are Ruby and Tom. She’s become a bit of a doormat and he’s emotionally abusive. It was easy to see why Ruby would find Harry a reason to leave her marriage. There are Harry and Emma. They’ve been married for years and things have grown stale. He’s quite taken with Ruby when she comes to work at his company. They have a plan to be together but somehow things go wrong and Ruby ends up alone. The novel moves between Ruby and Emma’s POV. I liked that just when I thought I knew how things would play out the author threw a curve ball and the story went down a new path. I appreciated the nod to Gaslight – a film I now want to see again after many decades. All told, The Closer You Get is a fast paced, suspenseful novel that I read in a couple of days. I’ll definitely look for Mary Torjussen’s previous books.


 

Safe House

Safe House by Jo Jakeman

Published:  March 10, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

One day, a woman turns up in a remote coastal village. She’s bought a crumbling, long-vacant cottage and calls herself Charlie Miller. Charlie keeps to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. If they ever find out who she really is, and what she’s done, she’ll lose what little she has left.

Charlie served two years in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. It was the mistake of a woman in love, a woman who couldn’t believe her boyfriend was guilty–or lying to her. All she desperately wants now is a fresh start.

As Charlie slowly lets down her guard and becomes friendly with her neighbors, she can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching her, someone who knows what she did. When one of her new friends suddenly disappears, Charlie’s worst fears are confirmed. She must confront her past head-on, but as she knows all too well, everything is far more dangerous than how it appears. (publisher)

My take:  Charlie (formerly Steffi) wanted to think the best of her perfect boyfriend but little by little their relationship had changed and she worried things wouldn’t work out. So, when detectives came to her workplace one day she provided a false alibi for him. After all, he couldn’t possibly be a murderer, could he? Charlie ended up serving a prison sentence for her part. When she was released she relocated to a little town on the Cornwall coast. She bought a fixer-upper and started to adjust to her new name and a fresh start. As she started to get her bearings she had a feeling that someone was watching her. Was it possible someone knew her true identity? And what did they want with her?

This book kept me on the edge of my seat and quickly turning the pages. I enjoyed the setting, the slow build in the drama, and the tense scenes near the end. It was a twisty, fast read that I enjoyed. I wonder what Jo Jakeman will dream up next.


 

The Darkness We Hide

The Darkness We Hide by Debra Webb

Published:  March 31, 2020 – MIRA

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

For months, Doctor Rowan Dupont has been staring death in the face. It followed her back to her hometown of Winchester, Tennessee, ten months ago, cloaking the walls of her family’s Victorian funeral home like a shroud. In investigating the mysterious deaths of her loved ones, Rowan has unearthed enough family secrets to bury everything she’d previously thought true. But each shocking discovery has only led to more bodies and more questions; the rabbit hole is deeper than she ever imagined.

Despite settling in to a comfortable life with Police Chief Billy Brannigan, Rowan knows dangerous serial killer Julian Addington is still out there. She can’t let her guard down now. Not when she’s this close to ending his torment once and for all. But with a storm brewing on the horizon, she’ll get only one shot before the impending darkness takes hold, threatening to wipe away every truth she’s uncovered—and everything she holds dear. (publisher)

My take:  I jumped into The Undertaker’s Daughter series (trilogy?) with The Darkness We Hide – Book 3. Author Debra Webb did a good job catching me up with the main points of what had transpired in the previous books but I may circle back to those at some point.

This book left me breathless as Rowan, Billy and others pursued the serial killer, Julian Addington. Debra Webb’s novel is fast-paced with action and clues and red herrings. As you’d expect with a thriller involving a serial killer there are super creepy things happening right up to the last pages which made me really appreciate the epilogue.

I discovered Debra Webb’s books a couple of months ago and I’m a fan. I can’t wait to read more from this prolific (thank goodness!) author.


About the author:

Debra Webb is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of more than 130 novels, including reader favorites the Faces of Evil, theColby Agency, and the Shades of Death series. With more than four million books sold in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood on a farm in Alabama.


 

Spotlight: Safe House

Safe House by Jo Jakeman

Published:  March 2020 – Berkley

Description:

She’s paid the price for giving her ex a false alibi, and now she’s moved to a seaside village to escape her past–but more than her lie follows her there in this chilling and twisty psychological thriller from the author of the acclaimed The Exes’ Revenge.

One day, a woman turns up in a remote coastal village. She’s bought a crumbling, long-vacant cottage and calls herself Charlie Miller. Charlie keeps to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. If they ever find out who she really is, and what she’s done, she’ll lose what little she has left.

Charlie served two years in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. It was the mistake of a woman in love, a woman who couldn’t believe her boyfriend was guilty–or lying to her. All she desperately wants now is a fresh start.

As Charlie slowly lets down her guard and becomes friendly with her neighbors, she can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching her, someone who knows what she did. When one of her new friends suddenly disappears, Charlie’s worst fears are confirmed. She must confront her past head-on, but as she knows all too well, everything is far more dangerous than how it appears. (publisher)


About the author (from the author’s website)

Jo was the winner of the prestigious Friday Night Live competition at York Festival of Writing. Her debut Psychological Thriller was published in the UK as Sticks and Stones by Harvill Secker (Penguin Random House) and as The Exes’ Revenge in the USA and Canada. It was shortlisted for the Best Revenge thriller of the year at the Dead Good Reader Awards. Her second thriller SAFE HOUSE is due October 31,

2019 in the UK and Spring 2020 in America and Canada.

http://www.jojakeman.com

“Jo Jakeman’s assured debut is a revenge thriller…a cracking pace, plenty of twists and some well-judged dark humour.”–The Guardian (UK)


Ten Days Gone

Ten Days Gone by Beverly Long

Published:  February 2020 – MIRA

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

They know exactly when he’ll strike… They just have to find him first.

In all their years working for the Baywood police department, detectives A.L. McKittridge and Rena Morgan have never seen anything like it. Four women dead in forty days, each killed ten days apart. With nothing connecting the victims and very little evidence, the clock is already counting down to when the next body drops. A.L. and Rena will have to act fast if they’re going to find the killer’s next victim before he does.

But identifying the killer’s next likely target is only half the battle. With pressure pushing in from all sides, a promising breakthrough leads the detectives to Tess Lyons, a woman whose past trauma has left her too damaged to appreciate the danger she’s in. Unwilling to let another woman die, A.L. and Rena will put everything on the line to keep Tess safe and end the killer’s deadly spree once and for all—before time runs out again. (publisher)

My take:  A fourth body has been discovered in the Wisconsin town of Baywood – fourth in forty days. There’s the pattern of every ten days and there are other similar details that connect the same killer to the murders. The challenge is to find the killer before he strikes again.

As each day passes the urgency is amped up for Detectives A.L. McKittridge and Rena Morgan to solve the case. I enjoyed learning about these two – their work relationship as well as their individual personal lives. A.L. is a divorced father of a sixteen year old and Rena is married and dealing with infertility. They are characters I want to learn more about and am looking forward to the opportunity in the next book.

I found this procedural a fast paced and tightly written story that was hard to put down. Recommended to fans of author Beverly Long and the Mystery/Thriller genre.


 

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

Expected publication date:  September 3, 2019 – Minotaur Books

E galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his estranged father’s funeral takes place. On the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too.

Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

The case calls Matthew back to the people and places of his past, as deadly secrets hidden at their hearts are revealed, and his new life is forced into a collision course with the world he thought he’d left behind.

From Ann Cleeves, bestselling author of Vera and Shetland, beloved by readers and TV viewers alike, comes a spectacular new series, told with deep compassion and searing insight. (publisher)

My take:  This is my first time reading Ann Cleeves. If the rest of her books are as character driven as The Long Call I can see why she’s so popular.

We meet Detective Venn on the day of his estranged father’s funeral. When he gets the call that a body has been discovered on a local beach he knows he could be led down an uncomfortable road with people from his past. He’ll have that and much more.

Cleeves sets the tone for the new series and gives us glimpses of the personal lives of the rest of Venn’s team as they investigate a murder that will shock many town citizens. I could imagine this as a future television series and will definitely read the next book in the Two Rivers series.


 

The Perfect Son by Lauren North

The Perfect Son by Lauren North

Published: August 2019 – Berkley Trade Paperback Original

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description: When Tess Clarke wakes up in the hospital the day after her son Jamie’s eighth birthday, she’s sure of these things: She’s been stabbed, her son is missing, her brother-in-law and her grief counselor are involved. But no one is listening to her. 

After her husband, Mark, died suddenly in a terrible accident a few months earlier, the only thing keeping Tess together is Jamie. As they struggle to make sense of their new life without Mark, they find joy in brief moments of normalcy like walking to school and watching television together. Life is hard without Mark, but Tess has Jamie, and that’s what matters.

But there in the hospital, confused and surrounded by people who won’t listen, Tess’s world falls apart. To save her son, she must piece together what happened between Mark’s death and Jamie’s birthday, but the truth might just be too much for her to bear. (publisher)

My take:  Tess Clarke’s husband died recently and she’s grateful to have their 8 year old son Jamie as she deals with grief and the accompanying depression. She makes a new friend in the grief counselor who soon takes on the role of running interference for Tess from people who don’t seem to have her best interest in mind. And then mysterious phone calls and people begin to make Tess wonder if she can trust anyone. I felt the same way and read with my jaw clenched most of the time. Despite my sore jaw I found the story addictive in a ‘just one more chapter’ way. I liked The Perfect Son but was looking for a little more from the ending. I realize that’s just personal preference so check out other reviews. Still, I’m glad I read it and would definitely read the author’s next book. The Perfect Son is Lauren North’s debut novel.


About the author:

Lauren North studied psychology before moving to London, where she lived and worked for many years. She now lives with her family in the Suffolk countryside. The Perfect Son is her first novel, and she’s working on her second.


Praise for The Perfect Son:

“North offers an intimate, unbalancing mix of grief, paranoia, gaslighting, maternal protectiveness, and profound compassion.” – STARRED review from Publishers Weekly

“A powerful, unpredictable debut thriller about a mother’s attempt to reassemble her life from the shards of tragedy. Lauren North’s skillful narrative casts everyone as a suspect and keeps the reader guessing until the final, emotion-packed pages.” – David Bell, USA Today bestselling author of Layover

“A heart-rending evocation of grief that packs a devious punch. It left me reeling.” – Lesley Kara, author of the international bestseller The Rumor

“As satisfyingly intriguing and page-turning as you could possibly want. An emotional read – the end is a shocker!” – Emma Curtis, author of When I Find You

“Beautifully written psychological suspense about the power of love after a life-changing loss. A sense of impending doom and foreboding gripped me from the first page….The ending is stunning and powerful.” – Mary Torjussen, author of The Girl I Used to Be

“A captivating, suspenseful thriller that draws you in – with a twist that will take your breath away.” – T.M. Logan, author of Lies