Go To My Grave by Catriona McPherson

Go To My Grave by Catriona McPherson

October 2018 – Minotaur Books

Review copy courtesy of Minotaur and NetGalley

Description:

Donna Weaver has put everything she has into restoring The Breakers, an old bed and breakfast on a remote stretch of beach in Galloway. Now it sits waiting—freshly painted, richly furnished, filled with flowers—for the first guests to arrive.

But Donna’s guests, a contentious group of estranged cousins, soon realize that they’ve been here before, years ago. Decades have passed, but that night still haunts them: a sixteenth birthday party that started with peach schnapps and ended with a girl walking into the sea.

Each of them had made a vow of silence: “lock it in a box, stitch my lips, and go to my grave.”

But now someone has broken the pact. Amid the home-baked scones and lavish rooms, someone is playing games, locking boxes, stitching lips. And before the weekend is over, at least one of them will go to their grave. (publisher)

My take:  When her B&B is rented for a weekend Donna is very excited. She’s worked so hard to get the old place in shape. Now its ready for the first guests. The guests who arrive are related by marriage or blood and don’t seem overly fond of each other or the guests of honor – a sibling and his wife celebrating a special anniversary. As soon as the house is full odd things begin to happen. The reactions of everyone involved could be deemed telling – to someone who knows what’s going on. At times I was reminded of an Agatha Christie mystery. There’s the beautiful Inn, loosely related guests, and things that disappear or appear at unexpected times. But then something big happens and the smaller incidents don’t seem that minor anymore. I found the reveal interesting but, honestly, I almost gave up on this book a couple of times. Most of the characters were self-involved boors who acted horribly at one time or another, if not most of the time. The novel is mostly set in the present time but occasionally moves to the early 90s – one night in particular when unspeakable things happened. This group thought they’d go to their graves with the secrets from that night. But will they?


Praise for Go To My Grave:

“GO TO MY GRAVE is both a classic ‘country house mystery’ and a thriller. Atmospheric, with mind-bending twists, a narrator who may or may not be reliable, and an ending that will take your breath away and leave you astonished.” – Louise Penny

“A Gothic feast of a novel, this is a country house book with a difference: contemporary, punchy and disturbing, but using the tricks and twists of the best of Christie.” – Ann Cleeves

“GO TO MY GRAVE is a terrific mystery—sharp, devious, and suspenseful. Catriona McPherson has written another winner.” – Meg Gardiner


 

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The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

October 2018 -Berkley Trade Paperback Original

Review book courtesy of the publisher

Description:

Beth has always known there was something strange about her daughter, Hannah. The lack of emotion, the disturbing behavior, including the apparent delight in hurting others; sometimes Beth is scared of Hannah and what she could be capable of doing.

Luke comes from the perfect family, with the perfect parents. But one day, he disappears without a trace, and his girlfriend, Clara, is desperate to discover what has happened to him. As Clara digs into the past, she realizes that no family is truly perfect, and uncovers a link between Luke’s long-lost sister and a strange girl named Hannah. Now Luke’s life is in danger because of the lies once told and the secrets once kept. (from the publisher)

My take:  How much do we really know about the people in our circle – the really important people? The Lies We Told will have readers wondering! Well-paced and tightly edited (always a good thing) Camilla Way’s mystery/thriller kept me on edge and turning the pages. Just when I was sure I’d figured it out she threw another possibility into the mix. I loved that! And I loved how the answers to my questions were revealed little by little. I’m excited to read what she dreams up next.


About the author:

Camilla Way has been an editor and writer for magazines in the UK and is the author of Watching Edie. Follow her on Twitter @CamillaLWay.

THE LIES WE TOLD has already been drawing comparisons to We Need to Talk about Kevin, it’s been been called “deftly plotted” (Emerald Street), “compelling” (Prima), a “top class psychological thriller” (The Sunday Mirror), and been called readers’ “insomnia buddy” (Stylist).


 

Spotlight: The Girl From Berlin by Ronald H. Balson

The Girl From Berlin by Ronald H. Balson

Liam Taggart & Catherine Lockhart Series, #5

October 9, 2018 – St. Martin’s Press

Book Summary:

In the newest novel from internationally-bestselling author Ronald. H. Balson, Liam and Catherine come to the aid of an old friend and are drawn into a property dispute in Tuscany that unearths long-buried secrets

An old friend calls Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart to his famous Italian restaurant to enlist their help. His aunt is being evicted from her home in the Tuscan hills by a powerful corporation claiming they own the deeds, even though she can produce her own set of deeds to her land. Catherine and Liam’s only clue is a bound handwritten manuscript, entirely in German, and hidden in its pages is a story long-forgotten…

Ada Baumgarten was born in Berlin in 1918, at the end of the war. The daughter of an accomplished first-chair violinist in the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic, and herself a violin prodigy, Ada’s life was full of the rich culture of Berlin’s interwar society. She formed a deep attachment to her childhood friend Kurt, but they were torn apart by the growing unrest as her Jewish family came under suspicion. As the tides of history turned, it was her extraordinary talent that would carry her through an unraveling society turned to war, and make her a target even as it saved her, allowing her to move to Bologna―though Italy was not the haven her family had hoped, and further heartache awaited.

What became of Ada? How is she connected to the conflicting land deeds of a small Italian villa? As they dig through the layers of lies, corruption, and human evil, Catherine and Liam uncover an unfinished story of heart, redemption, and hope―the ending of which is yet to be written.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

RONALD H. BALSON is a Chicago trial attorney, an educator and writer. His practice has taken him to several international venues. He is also the author of The Trust, Karolina’s Twins, Saving Sophie, and the international bestseller Once We Were Brothers.

PRAISE FOR RONALD H. BALSON:

“Weaving together history with mystery, Ronald H. Balson crafts a compelling tale.”Us Weekly on The Trust

“Secrets, friendships, survival, and the Holocaust are woven together in Ronald H. Balson’s haunting Karolina’s Twins.”Family Circle on Karolina’s Twins

Once We Were Brothers tells a great story . . . gripping…”The Chicago Tribune on Once We Were Brothers


Spotlight on: Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

 

Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

St. Martin’s Griffin;  August 21, 2018

Description:  

Emma Grace Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes. Brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma Townsend is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Abandoned by her mother. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal—and when a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her, far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now she’s gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But her real mother is at home, waiting for her to return—and the longer the search for Emma continues, Amy is forced to question if she really wants her back.

Emotionally powerful and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.


About the author:

Rea Frey is an award-winning author of four nonfiction books. She lives in Nashville with her husband and daughter. NOT HER DAUGHTER is her debut novel.

Read more at:

reafrey.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/reafrey_author?lang=en

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

photo credit:  Alex Holguin


 

Praise for NOT HER DAUGHTER:

Not Her Daughter is a cleverly constructed novel that will have you questioning everything you believe about right or wrong. Frey skillfully tangles you up in these two women’s lives and never lets up on the tension all the way until the dramatic conclusion. A remarkable portrayal of motherhood, in all its beautiful glory and heart-wrenching despair.” —New York Times bestselling author Chevy Stevens

“In Not Her Daughter, Frey pulls off a difficult task: balancing a nail-biting plot with a thought-provoking question — is a crime committed with the best intentions still a crime? A chilling, powerful tale of love and sacrifice, of truth and perception, Not Her Daughter will make you miss your bedtime, guaranteed. A stunning debut.” —Kimberly Belle, Internationally Bestselling Author of The Marriage Lie

“NOT HER DAUGHTER is a deft and beautifully written examination of taboo maternal fantasies: Can a kidnapping ever be justified? Can motherhood be undone?  Engrossing and suspenseful, Frey writes her characters with depth and compassion, challenging readers to question their own code of ethics.”  —Zoje Stage, author of Baby Teeth

I couldn’t put Rea Frey’s NOT HER DAUGHTER down, and once finished, couldn’t let it go.  So much more than an engrossingly suspenseful novel, it’s a thoughtful exploration on the extremes to which motherhood and love and loss can drive us.  An amazing debut.” —Christina Kovac, author of The Cutaway

“Women who do not embrace motherhood or “bad mothers” are a taboo subject — in both real life and fiction — but Frey tackles it with aplomb in her taut debut, NOT HER DAUGHTER. The story begs the question: who is more mother — the one who gives birth or the one who rescues? The plot twists here are brave, the themes are both poignant and unsettling, and the resolution is deeply resonant. A page-turner with heart!” – New York Times bestselling author Kate Moretti

Harrowing and heartfeltNot Her Daughter is a gripping novel about the amazing power of mother love.” —Rebecca Drake, author of Just Between Us

A compelling mix of high wire tension and superb writing. Not Her Daughter will linger in the memory long after the final page has been turned. “—Laura Elliot, author of Guilty, Sleep Sister, and The Betrayal

“Tightly paced and impossible to put downNot Her Daughter is a cleverly written story that challenges what it means to be a mother—or not to be one. A thought-provoking and poignant debut.” —Clarissa Goenawan, author of Rainbirds

Not Her Daughter is an interesting and emotional debut about women stuck in lives they never wanted and the desperate decisions they’ll make to get out. Certain to keep readers turning pages and guessing as to who the real villain is.”—Cate Holahan, USA Today Bestselling Author of The Widower’s Wife and Lies She Told


 

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

  • Title:  Not That I Could Tell
  • Author:  Jessica Strawser
  • Genre:  Mystery
  • Pages:  320
  • Publication date:  March 27, 2018 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher, NetGalley

Description:  An innocent night of fun takes a shocking turn in Not That I Could Tell, the next page-turner from Jessica Strawser.

When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.

By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.

As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.  (publisher)

My take:  It’s a mystery to her neighbors what exactly happened to Kristin and her young twins. The night before all the neighbor women were enjoying a rare night “out” around a backyard fire-pit and the next day Kristin and her kids had disappeared. Each woman will examine her own version of what transpired as they, along with the local PD, try to solve the mystery.

The background of each neighbor is examined. This sometimes had me hoping the pace would step up a bit but the author held it steady as the plot unfolded. There were times, interactions at the local school – to name one, when I laughed. Relatable kernels of real life I guess. It really seemed like more of a character study for most of the novel until things revved up near the end. I’m ok with that and smiled as I turned the last page. I enjoyed Jessica Strawser’s style of telling her story and look forward to her next novel.


 

Bel, Book and Scandal by Maggie McConnon

  • Title:  Bel, Book and Scandal
  • Series: Belfast McGrath Mystery #3
  • Author:  Maggie McConnon
  • Genre:  Cozy Mystery
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  December 2017 – St. Martin’s Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Maggie McConnon rings in Christmas in Bel, Book, and Scandal, the third adventure for everybody’s favorite Irish-American culinary artist turned amateur sleuth.

Bel McGrath tries her best to keep herself on the straight and narrow but she just has a taste for trouble. This time danger arrives in the form of a newspaper left behind by visitors to Shamrock Manor—and a photograph that jolts Bel out of the present and back into a dark chapter from her past. The person in the photo is Bel’s best friend Amy Mitchell, long gone from Foster’s Landing, at a commune in upstate New York shortly after her disappearance. The picture, and Bel’s burning desire to find out what happened to Amy—and whether she may still be alive—is the catalyst for a story in which old secrets are revealed, little by little…and certain characters are shown to not be as genuine as Bel once thought. (publisher)

My take:  Belfast McGrath is a chef who left her last gig in disgrace and returned home to work for her parents at Shamrock Manor, cooking for weddings and other events. Being back in the place where she grew up is a challenge rife with memories both good and bad. After a meeting with a prospective client Bel finds a newspaper the client left behind that has a startling photo – Bel’s best friend who was thought to have died now appears to be very much alive. This starts amateur sleuth Bel on a search for her friend.

Maggie McConnon’s mystery was entertaining but not in a laugh out loud way (although I did occasionally). I loved her characters – Bel’s parents and brothers were funny in the same way we may see our own family members as funny, quirky, odd.  In addition to her family were assorted towns-people, old boyfriends, new friends. They all added to my enjoyment and any of them could have been a red herring. I didn’t figure out whodunit until close to the end – and then I wasn’t sure!

Bel, Book and Scandal is the third book in the Belfast McGrath series. I haven’t read the first two but didn’t feel lost because McConnon did a good job of bringing me up to speed in the opening chapters. Recommended to fans of the series and the cozy mystery genre.


About the author:

MAGGIE MCCONNON grew up in New York immersed in Irish culture and tradition. A former Irish stepdancer, she was surrounded by a family of Irish musicians who still play at family gatherings. She credits her Irish grandparents with providing the stories of their homeland and their extended families as the basis for the stories she tells in her Belfast McGrath novels, beginning with Wedding Bel Blues.

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Buy Links:
Amazon
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IndieBound



 

A Season to Lie by Emily Littlejohn

  • Title:  A Season To Lie
  • Author:  Emily LIttlejohn
  • Series:  Detective Gemma Monroe #2
  • Genre:  Mystery
  • Pages:  336
  • Published:  November 2017 – Minotaur Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  On a cold dark night in February, as a blizzard shrieks through Cedar Valley, police officer and new mother Gemma Monroe responds to an anonymous report of a prowler at the local private high school, The Valley Academy. In her idyllic Colorado small town, Gemma expects the call was just a prank by a bored teenager.

But there in the snow lies the savaged body of a man whose presence in town was meant to be a secret. And a disturbing message left by his killer promises more death to come.

This is only the beginning . . .

Nothing is as it seems in Cedar Valley and stories, both fact and fiction, ensnare Gemma as her investigation moves from the halls of an elite academy to the forests that surround Cedar Valley.

Against a backdrop of bleak winter weather, stymied by those who would lie to protect what is dearest to them, Gemma hunts a ruthless killer before he strikes again in A Season to Lie.  (publisher)

My take:  Gemma Monroe, just returned from maternity leave, is very happy to be back at work at the Cedar Valley, CO police department. Her plan to ease back into a doable work schedule takes a turn when the body of a famous author is found at the town’s prestigious academy – in the middle of a blizzard. Tracking down the murderer will take up most of her time and energy. It doesn’t help that her boyfriend (and father of her child) is feeling a little stir-crazy being at home full-time. She’s feeling pressure from all sides.

I got a good sense of Gemma and her co-workers, family and other assorted characters despite jumping into the series on book 2. I enjoyed Emily Littlejohn’s style of telling a story and how she developed her characters. I liked what I read of the small Colorado, B-list ski town and want to learn more about it and the people who live there.  No shortage of red-herrings there and I thought any of them were plausible. That explains why I wasn’t shocked when Gemma discovered the murderer. There were a few loose threads involving those red herrings at the end of the novel that I hope will be carried into the next book in the series.