The Sisters of Blue Mountain by Karen Katchur

  • Title:  The Sisters of Blue Mountain
  • Author:  Karen Katchur
  • Genre:  Mystery
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  April 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  The Sisters of Blue Mountain is the story of Linnet and Myna. The sisters have been estranged for several years but are brought together when an unusual event occurs in their hometown.

Myna is a college professor in Florida and Linnet runs a B&B in the mountains of Pennsylvania. The inn is situated near a waterway that snow geese frequent on their migration each year. It’s a tourist draw that brings many people to the inn. This year something odd happened with the geese that has a profound effect on the town and the local businesses, including Linnet’s inn. At the same time, Myna comes home to see her relatives and to take a break from a relationship in Florida. The sisters will need to deal with some unfinished business that comes to light when a certain reporter comes to investigate the snow geese incident.

I thought The Sisters of Blue Mountain was an interesting mystery that grew to include more than the case of the snow geese. Linnet and Myna have secrets and are forced to come to terms with the truth. There’s also a murder that needs to be solved. Karen Katchur packed a lot into a few pages that seemed to turn themselves after a while. As you would expect all is wrapped up neatly by the last page. I enjoyed this unique mystery and look forward to reading more from the author.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Halo Effect by Anne D. LeClaire

The Halo Effect: A Novel

by Anne D. LeClaire

Lake Union Publishing – April 1, 2017 – 348 pages

Trade Paperback Original: 9781503943186 – $14.95

eBook: B01K4TXXH8 – $4.99


In this tour de force, a father, shaken by tragedy, tries to avenge his daughter’s murder—and restore his family’s shattered life.

It was supposed to be a typical October evening for renowned portrait artist Will Light. Over dinner of lamb tagine, his wife, Sophie, would share news about chorus rehearsals for the upcoming holiday concert, and their teenage daughter, Lucy, would chatter about French club and field hockey. Only Lucy never came home. Her body was found, days later, in the woods.

The Eastern Seaboard town of Port Fortune used to be Will’s comfort. Now, there’s no safe harbor for him. Not even when Father Gervase asks Will to paint portraits of saints for the new cathedral. Using the townspeople as models, Will sees in each face only a mask of the darkness of evil. And he just might be painting his daughter’s killer.

As Will navigates his rage and heartbreak, Sophie tries to move on; Father Gervase becomes an unexpected ally; and Rain, Lucy’s best friend, shrouds herself in a near-silent fugue. Their paths collide in a series of inextricably linked, dark, dangerous moments that could lead to their undoing…or to their redemption.


About the Author:  Bestselling author Anne D. LeClaire has written eight novels, including Entering Normal, The Lavender Hour, and Leaving Eden, as well as her critically acclaimed memoir, Listening Below the Noise: The Transformative Power of Silence. Known for her exquisite and lyrical writing, the former op-ed columnist has been published in Redbook, the Boston Globe, Yoga Journal, and the New York Times.

A Distinguished Fellow at the Ragdale Foundation, LeClaire teaches creative-writing workshops around the globe. She is also a dynamic speaker—leading popular seminars and workshops exploring silence, creativity, and deep listening. LeClaire has been a visiting lecturer at Mt. Holyoke College, the University of Tennessee, and Columbia College and was a featured presenter at the Lincoln Center.

A former reporter, print journalist, radio broadcaster, and private pilot, LeClaire lives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where she leads silent retreats, practices yoga, and plays the washboard.

www.anneleclaire.com


Praise for The Halo Effect

“The terms ‘literary’ and ‘page turner’ dovetail beautifully in Anne D. LeClaire’s new novel. The Halo Effect is a must-read for LeClaire’s faithful fans and a sit-up-and-take-notice book for those who have yet to discover this talented, truth-seeking storyteller who asks the big questions as she observes the small but intricate details that make us human.” – Wally Lamb, New York Times bestselling author

The Halo Effect is a wonderful hybrid: a compelling murder mystery and a thoughtful meditation on longing and loss. I was fascinated by the book’s saints – and sinners.” – Chris Bohjalian, author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls

“The people of Port Fortune are irrevocably changed by the murder of teenager Lucy Light, and Anne LeClaire’s generous spirit illuminates their flaws, struggles, and personal triumphs as they search for truth and meaning. After I finished reading The Halo Effect, I sat thinking for a long time about the people in this beautiful novel, so much like the ones I know and love.” – Nancy Thayer, New York Times bestselling author of Secrets in Summer

“I wasn’t ready for this one. As a fan of Anne LeClaire’s work I knew that her writing would be of its usual excellence, watchful, luminous, and moving, but in The Halo Effect she has also drawn a New England community in its exact contours by placing it under the revealing pressure of tragedy. Th result is a mystery at once literate, intimate, and almost intolerably suspenseful – reminiscent of Louis Penny at her best.” – Charles Finch, author of the bestselling Charles Lenox mystery novels.


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

Giveaway ends April 8, 2017 


I See You by Clare Mackintosh

  • i-see-youTitle:  I See You
  • Author:  Clare Mackintosh
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  February 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her…
 
It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her, a grainy photo along with a phone number and listing for a website called findtheone.com. 
 
Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including rape and murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose…a discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. For now Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target. 
 
And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move…  (publisher)

My take:  The description will tell you all you need to know before reading I See You. What I will say is that author Clare Mackintosh lulled me into a feeling of “is this going anywhere?” for a good part of the book. That’s not to say I was bored or uninterested. I enjoyed the unfolding of the story. I think she paced it slowly for a reason and then opened up a can of Whoa! in the last quarter of the book.

I agree with the Advance Praise below. It’s creepy and sinister. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t correctly guess who was behind the crime. I would love to read more about the investigation team in future books. Each detective seems to have a story that I’d be interested in knowing. Recommended to fans of the genre and Clare Mackintosh.



Advance praise for I SEE YOU:

A deliciously creepy tale of urban paranoia.”—Ruth Ware, author of The Woman in Cabin 10

Wonderfully sinister. Had me looking over my shoulder.”—Fiona Barton, author of The Widow

 “Mackintosh scripts a hair-raising ride all the scarier because its premise—that our predictable routines make us easy targets—is sadly so plausible.”Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[T]he steadily thickening paranoia will leave readers questioning their comfortable routines…a well-crafted blend of calculated malevolence, cunning plot twists, and redemption that will appeal to fans of Sophie Hannah, Ruth Rendell, and Ruth Ware.”Booklist, starred review

 Packed with suspense, twists, and turns[Mackintosh’s] meticulous detail to investigative accuracy and talent in weaving a thrilling tale set her work apart from others in the field.”Kirkus


 

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

  • jane steele (putnam)Title:  Jane Steele
  • Author:  Lyndsay Faye
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction; Mystery
  • Pages:  422
  • Published:  March 2016 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Reader, I murdered him.  So begins Lyndsay Faye’s Jane Steele.

A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until she escapes to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement. Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess for the nine-year-old ward in his care.

Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents – the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose connection with Mr. Thornfield appears far more complicated and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him – body, soul, and secrets – without revealing her own murderous past?

Inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s classic, Jane Steele is a brilliant and deeply absorbing satirical romance about identity, guilt, goodness, and the nature of lies.  (book flap)

My take:  Well, Readers, I loved it! Jane Steele is way outside of my normal reading zone but I was intrigued when offered a copy for review so I accepted. I’m so glad I did because it was such a fun read. It’s filled with drama, adventure, class differences, love and mystery culminating in an exciting denouement that seemed only fitting for Jane’s story.

There are references, subtle and pointed, to Jane Eyre (Jane Steele’s favorite book) that will hopefully make fans of the Brontë novel smile. It has been decades since I read it but now I’m tempted to do a reread. Thank you, Lyndsay Faye!

I appreciated the author’s historical afterward which points the reader to other books that helped to inform Jane Steele’s plot lines. Recommended to fans of Victorian novels, historical mysteries, Jane Eyre, and a good adventure. I’d also recommend Jane Steele to book clubs who want to shake things up a bit 🙂

Note: In addition to reading this book I used an Audible credit so I could keep listening when I couldn’t sit and read. Narrator Susie Riddell’s performance is perfection. Highly recommended!


 

More Praise for JANE STEELE:

 

“Let’s be honest here.  When I was sent an advanced readers’ copy of Jane Steele, which was billed as an historical crime novel with a Jane-Eyre-style heroine who becomes a serial killer, I thought someone was pulling my leg.  I decided to read ten pages, just to annoy myself as I’m often inclined to do.  Also, to show what a good sport I am.  I was hooked by page five and read my way through at a merry clip.

I loved this book!  The language rings true, the period details are correct.  Jane Steele is a joy, both plucky and rueful in her assessment of her dark deeds.

The plotting is solid and the pacing sublime.  If this were a series, this would be the perfect introduction.  As a stand-alone, I give it an A+”

—Sue Grafton

 

“Lyndsay Faye pulls off the most elusive feat of historical fiction: to give us a book that reads as though it was unearthed from a perfectly preserved antique chest.

Sneakily charming and wildly well written, like Faye’s other novels Jane Steele demands attention.”

—Matthew Pearl, New York Times-bestselling author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer

 

Jane Steele is lethal good fun!  In Jane, Lyndsay Faye has created a heroine unwilling to suffer tyrants or fools.

The result is a darkly humorous, elegantly crafted story of an ‘accidental’ vigilante. A delicious read.”

—Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist

 

“From the gasp-inducing moment Jane Steele utters the words ‘reader, I murdered him,’ you know you are in for a rollicking romp of an adventure that recasts the Jane Eyre story in an entirely new light.

But mixed in with the verve and vivacity is a story of real heart, exemplary, near-forgotten history, and an utterly unforgettable heroine.

Brava to Lyndsay Faye for what’s already one of my favorite thrillers of the year.”

—Sarah Weinman, editor of Women Crime Writers:Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s

 

“Enchanting.  Jane Steele is beautifully rendered and utterly captivating, from the first cry of

‘reader, I murdered him’ to its final pages.  Lyndsay Faye is a masterful storyteller, and this is her finest tale yet.’

—Maria Konnikova, New York Times-bestselling author of Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

 

The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak

  • the secret sister (7:28)Title:  The Secret Sister
  • Series:  Fairham Island #1
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance, Mystery
  • Published:  July 2015 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Did she once have a sister? Has her mother lied all these years? Why? 

After a painful divorce, Maisey Lazarow returns to Fairham, the small island off the North Carolina coast where she grew up. She goes there to heal—and to help her brother, Keith, a deeply troubled man who’s asked her to come home. But she refuses to stay in the family house. The last person she wants to see is the wealthy, controlling mother she escaped years ago. 

Instead, she finds herself living next door to someone else she’d prefer to avoid—Rafe Romero, the wild, reckless boy to whom she lost her virginity at sixteen. He’s back on the island, and to her surprise, he’s raising a young daughter alone. Maisey’s still attracted to him, but her heart’s too broken to risk… 

Then something even more disturbing happens. She discovers a box of photographs that evoke distant memories of a little girl, a child Keith remembers, too. Maisey believes the girl must’ve been their sister, but their mother claims there was no sister. 

Maisey’s convinced that child existed. So where is she now?  (publisher)

My take:  It’s alway fun to get in on the first book in a series when it first publishes. 

I loved the gothic tone of The Secret Sister. There’s the rich family with the cold, detached matriarch, the mansion on the hill, and the mystery that no one wants to talk about. Youngest daughter Maisey is determined to find out what happened to (what appears to be) her older sister.  Her brother Keith has been blamed for her disappearance and that has affected his life to the point that he finds his only relief in drugs. He doesn’t think he can handle having it all dredged up again so he’s not thrilled that Maisey is asking questions.

Thank goodness Maisey has Rafe and his young daughter to help keep her sane. They knew each other briefly when they were younger. Now, more than ten years later, life has given them both new perspective and they appreciate their possible second chance. Rafe wants to help Maisey find out what happened to the girl in the photographs. I thought they had great chemistry and I loved the interactions between Maisey and Laney, Rafe’s daughter.

I was satisfied (and a little surprised) with how the mystery was solved. If you like a contemporary romance wrapped around a mystery I think you’ll enjoy The Secret Sister. I certainly did and can’t wait to read the next book in the Fairham Island series.

Lucky Catch by Deborah Coonts

  • LuckyCatch_Final(5)Title:  Lucky Catch
  • Series:  Lucky O’Toole #5
  • Author:  Deborah Coonts
  • Published:  August 2014 – Cool Gus Publishing
  • Source:  Publicist

Synopsis:  Trouble always comes in threes. At least that’s what Lucky O’Toole, the VP of Customer Relations for Las Vegas’ primo Strip casino/hotel, the Babylon, has heard for years from her mother. So, tonight, when Teddie, her former lover shows up at her office unannounced and very unexpected, her father offers Teddie a job at the Babylon, she is called to deal with a pig in residence at one of the hotels most exclusive and opulent suites, and Lucky’s current lover, Jean-Charles Bouclet stops answering his phone leaving Lucky to handle his five-year-old son, Lucky figures she has tonight’s compliment of chaos covered.

As usual, she is a tad optimistic.

With a cadre of celebrity chefs with the maturity of teenagers in Vegas for a televised cook-off, a prized Alba truffle in the Babylon’s care, and her mother’s pregnancy racing toward the inevitable, what could go wrong?

When the truffle is stolen from the walk-in in Jean-Charles’ gourmet burger joint at the Babylon and a young chef apparently killed with a smoking gun is found in Jean-Charles’ food truck on the back lot, trouble takes a sinister turn.

And Jean-Charles still isn’t answering his phone.

Another body is discovered. This one stuffed in an oven at Jean-Charles’ eponymous restaurant and set to broil.

Desperate to put a lid on the body count and more than frantic over her AWOL lover, Lucky uses her Vegas contacts to search in places and in ways the police wouldn’t or couldn’t. Teddie insists on riding shotgun. Lucky hasn’t the time nor the resolve to say no. She’s never been able to resist Teddie … not really. With danger dogging their heels, Lucky finds herself falling once again under his spell as they traverse Vegas, being drawn deeper and deeper into the highly competitive world of high-end eateries and the battle for the very rare, most highly prized gourmet foodstuffs.

Would somebody really kill for a truffle?

In a heartbeat.

And when Lucky’s path crosses the killer’s… will her goose be cooked?  (publisher)

My take:  I was so happy to be given a chance to read the latest Lucky O’Toole mystery. Deborah Coonts is back  with a new Vegas mystery featuring our favorite amateur sleuth, Lucky O’Toole. This time Lucky ‘s current beau goes missing – and at the same time the prized truffle due to be used in a cooking competition at the resort seems to be lost.

And then two dead bodies found on the premises of The Babylon Resort need to be dealt with. Finding out whodunit is just one of the items on Lucky’s list of things to do. She also has to deal with a pig in one of the resort’s exclusive bungalows; some curious RFID tags; and people who are not whom they appear to be – and that’s just the top of the list.

As usual, I enjoyed my visit to Lucky O’Toole’s Las Vegas. The setting is mostly high-end and the characters are all sorts of people. Lucky is still questioning her relationship with her current man while maybe second-guessing her last one. The cast of regulars in her world make appearances in Lucky Catch and help to solve the mystery. I liked it all and look forward to the next book in the series. Recommended to fans of fun mysteries. Lucky Catch is part of a series. It can stand on its own. You don’t have to read the series in order but that’s what I’d recommend!

He’s Gone: A Novel by Deb Caletti

He's Gone

  • Title:  He’s Gone
  • Author:  Deb Caletti
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction; Mystery
  • Published:  May 2013 – Bantam
  • Source:  Publisher; LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Synopsis:  “What do you think happened to your husband, Mrs. Keller?”
The Sunday morning starts like any other, aside from the slight hangover. Dani Keller wakes up on her Seattle houseboat, a headache building behind her eyes from the wine she drank at a party the night before. But on this particular Sunday morning, she’s surprised to see that her husband, Ian, is not home. As the hours pass, Dani fills her day with small things. But still, Ian does not return. Irritation shifts to worry, worry slides almost imperceptibly into panic. And then, like a relentless blackness, the terrible realization hits Dani: He’s gone.

As the police work methodically through all the logical explanations—he’s hurt, he’s run off, he’s been killed—Dani searches frantically for a clue as to whether Ian is in fact dead or alive. And, slowly, she unpacks their relationship, holding each moment up to the light: from its intense, adulterous beginning, to the grandeur of their new love, to the difficulties of forever. She examines all the sins she can—and cannot—remember. As the days pass, Dani will plumb the depths of her conscience, turning over and revealing the darkest of her secrets in order to discover the hard truth—about herself, her husband, and their lives together.  (publisher)

My brief take:  He’s Gone is a compelling narrative by a woman whose husband has gone missing. It’s the story of when they meet until that day she can’t find him. It’s a smooth, psychological portrayal by, what some might think, an unreliable narrator.

Deb Caletti certainly kept me wondering and guessing about what happened to Dani’s husband! I liked He’s Gone and will definitely look for more of Caletti’s books.