I've been reading since birth. The only thing better than working in a bookstore would be to own a bookstore and sit in it all day and read. I love mysteries, thrillers, police procedurals, and anything dark, gritty, and disturbing. If you give me any YA novel, I will read it. My favorite books are Birdman by Mo Hayder, The Black Echo by Michael Connelly, Come Closer by Sara Gran, Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, The Killing Floor by Lee Child, and Darkness, Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane.
This is the fourth in the Rick Cahill P.I. series and, for me, the most emotionally-charged. Rick investigates two cases, both involving loved ones, so already, you know there’s a lot at stake. One case involves Kim, his ex-girlfriend, who hires Rick to confirm her suspicions that her husband is having an affair. The other dredges up Rick’s long-suppressed shame of his deceased father, a disgraced cop, when a safe is discovered in his childhood home. The two storylines weave together flawlessly. Kim’s case takes Rick into shady real estate deals and, eventually, murder. His personal crusade to uncover the truth about his father leads to a 20-year-old cold case. Rick struggles between his need to see justice served and the fear of what he’ll discover about his own flesh and blood. Coyle skillfully breaks up the thrilling action with more introspective moments, resulting in a topnotch read.
From actress (Jessica Jones), producer, writer, Ritter comes an engaging debut that combines a tortured past with a compelling mystery about a small town that is embroiled in a possible corruption scandal brought about by the company that sustains the community. Going home again is never easy, but it is particularly painful for Abby Williams, who left the small town of Barrens, Indiana 10 years ago to escape her school peers who hated her and pursue a life outside of the rural nightmare of her youth. Part Erin Brockovich, part Mean Girls, Abby Williams is back in Barrens in her role as an environmental lawyer and is only minutes into her return when she begins running into the people who make up her tortured history. Though she is in Barrens to investigate the role of Optimal Plastics in the reported health issues in Barrens, she also begins to uncover the circumstances that lead to the sudden departure of one of her childhood friends over 10 years ago. And then things get complicated. It turns out that this visit is more than just work to Abby; it is really a trip to her past to see if she can free herself from the damage inflicted on her when she lived there.
Joe Ide’s debut novel, IQ, was one of my favorite books of 2016. The concept was cool and unique: an edgy Sherlock Holmes with a hip hop flavor. Righteous is no different and picks up right where we left off. Isaiah Quintabe or IQ receives a cry for help from his brother’s former girlfriend, Sarita: find her younger sister, Janine. What follows is a sometimes comical high stakes journey to the neon lights of Las Vegas where Isaiah finds himself pitted against a psychotic loan shark and a Chinese triad. Meanwhile, he continues to obsess over the hit and run that killed his older brother, Marcus, eight years ago. The two storylines intertwine together seamlessly, revealing IQ’s intelligence, wit, and buried pain. I love the way Ide guides us down one path only to bring us to a conclusion that is surprising yet so inevitable, we wonder how we missed it. Another standout from Ide and the IQ series.
Attica Locke’s books are rich in atmosphere and slow-drip tension. Her latest title, Bluebird, Bluebird, is no exception and right from the beginning, readers are immersed in a small town of tin-roof joints, sultry blues, and an unmistakable racial divide. Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger who’s grappling with his own personal issues, is called on to investigate a double murder in the rural East Texas town of Lark. It’s no ordinary double murder either: a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman are both found dead in the bayou, days apart from one another. Darren is plunged into a world where family secrets and long-simmering resentment threaten to destroy the tight-lipped community and anyone who dares to seek the truth. This is Attica Locke at the top of her game — a powerful and timely novel about race, justice, and true love.
This is the fifth in the Ellie Stone mystery series and I know I say this every time, but I think it’s my favorite. Perhaps it’s the nostalgic 1960s Hollywood setting or maybe it’s the skill in which Ziskin addresses homophobia and racism during that era. Ellie is assigned to write a story about Tony Eberle, a New Holland native, who lands a starring role in a Hollywood movie. The only problem is when she arrives on the Paramount lot, he’s missing. Ellie is determined to follow through with her story and vows to locate Tony Eberle despite the film’s producer turning up dead and a shrewd studio executive always staying one step ahead of her. The investigation takes Ellie into a more sinister Hollywood and she quickly realizes she’s out of her depth. Perhaps what I appreciate most is the realistic way in which Ellie, a modern young woman for her time, acknowledges her conflicting feelings about homosexuality and alternative lifestyles. Another standout from Ziskin.
This small-town psychological thriller focuses on Anna Winger, a handwriting analyst whose expertise is requested in the case of a missing local boy. Evidence points to the mother kidnapping her son in order to protect him from her abusive husband. Anna knows firsthand about domestic violence and has mixed feelings about the investigation. She also is struggling with her own son, Joshua, a sullen teenager who is fed up with their constant moving. Eventually, Anna is forced to face her past demons but neither she, nor the reader, is prepared for what she uncovers. The menace steadily builds; Anna’s fear is palpable in every word, every scene. You may not know what it all means initially but that only makes the pages turn faster. The last half takes off like a rocket, hurtling toward a chilling climax. An atmospheric literary thriller with razor sharp insight and beautiful prose.
Reading a Windermere and Stevens book is like returning to old friends. This sixth entry in Laukkanen’s series featuring the team from the FBI-Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Violent Crimes Task Force doesn’t disappoint and could be read as a standalone too. When Stevens and Windermere find photos on a cell phone that suggest the work of a serial killer, they uncover the story of a “ghost rider” who haunts the High Line train line in the Rocky Mountains. The victims are runaways, prostitutes, and drug addicts so few take notice. The investigation takes the team to the bleak landscape of northern Montana and the Pacific Northwest in the dead of winter. The POV shifts from the two agents to the killer as well as my favorite, Mila Scott, a train hopper who wants to avenge her friend’s death. The savagery of the harsh winter setting really heightens the tension in this action-packed thriller.
The saga of Ollie and Moritz continues in this sequel to the highly-praised debut novel from Leah Thomas, Because You’ll Never Meet Me. I didn’t think BYNMM needed a sequel so I went into this with some trepidation because the world of Ollie and Moritz was already so special and important. But I can say that Nowhere Near You is just as special and important, maybe even more so. If you haven’t read BYNMM, I don’t think it’s necessary but it does help create an immediate sense of story. Ollie enthusiastically embarks on a road trip to find other kids like him and Moritz, the “Blunderkids.” These are kids with unique characteristics, such as Ollie’s allergy to electricity and Moritz’s eyelessness. Meanwhile, Moritz attends an exclusive school despite his antisocial tendencies. The journey for both boys is heart-breaking, hilarious, and shocking. Nowhere Near You is a quirky contemporary science fiction take on the importance of friendship and identity. Another standout from Thomas.
A top-notch hard-boiled crime novel set in the wealthy enclaves of La Jolla, Del Mar, and Coronado where greed and desperation lurk just underneath the jeweled surfaces. This is the third installment of the P.I. Rick Cahill series as he takes on Brianne Colton’s case despite his misgivings about it. Brianne is convinced her police officer husband, Jim Colton, didn’t kill himself but was murdered. The case pits Rick against a familiar enemy, La Jolla Police Chief Tony Moretti, who is convinced Rick is involved in a missing persons case. The P.I. knows it’s only a matter of time before Moretti shows up at his door with an arrest warrant. As Cahill digs further into Colton’s suicide, he comes up against FBI agents, ex-SEALs, and a sleazy criminal lawyer from his past. The story carries the reader along at breakneck speed, yet still manages to take a few breaths for softer moments.
McHugh’s debut novel The Weight of Blood was one of my favorite books of 2014. It had the perfect combination of menace and page-turning suspense, all told in exquisite prose. In her sophomore effort, Arrowood, she manages to accomplish this once again. Arden Arrowood returns to her historic childhood home in Keokuk, Iowa after inheriting the family legacy. Tragedy struck almost twenty years ago when Arden’s twin sisters were abducted while playing outside. Arden struggles with her recollections of that fateful day; then she meets Josh, a cold case fanatic, who believes the man she initially suspected may have no involvement. The truth may be more horrifying than Arden could have ever imagined, and the result is a chilling atmospheric thriller that haunted me for days.
Imagine a United States of America where no Civil War occurred and Abraham Lincoln was assassinated before his inauguration. Four states, the Hard Four, still practice slavery. Victor is first introduced as Jim Dirkson, a former slave appealing to a pastor to find his wife who is enslaved in a mine in the Carolinas. We discover this is a ruse: Victor is a government agent who works with the U.S. Marshals to hunt down escaped slaves. His current mission is to infiltrate the Underground Airlines, a system that helps escaped slaves flee to Canada, and locate a slave named Jackdaw. Victor realizes those in command aren’t telling him the whole truth and he must find Jackdaw for his own reasons. A fast-paced compelling read that paints a grim and chilling picture of what could have been, with observations and experiences that remain timely in today’s world.
Heart of Stone by James W. Ziskin
The fourth installment to this mystery series featuring investigative reporter Ellie Stone may be my favorite yet. Set in 1961 Adirondacks, it opens with the chief of police, Tiny Terwilliger, asking Ellie to take photos of two men who have plummeted to their deaths off Baxter Rock. Their deaths are deemed accidental. Meanwhile, Ellie runs into childhood friends at nearby Arcadia Lodge and is drawn to their nights of wine and music, although she’s drawn to charming Isaac the most. The more she learns about this group of left-wing Jewish intellectuals, the more suspicious she becomes, especially when she discovers one of the dead bodies is a former friend of theirs. Ellie tries not to let her feelings for Isaac cloud her judgment as she wades through long-buried secrets, religious fanatics, and Cold War ideology. This whirlwind romance brings out a softer side to the typically tough protagonist which I found endearing and real.
Hamilton’s debut novel, Past Crimes, was one of my favorites last year, and the second in the Van Shaw series, Hard Cold Winter, has impressed me even more. Van, former Army ranger and ex-thief, is summoned by a friend of his late grandfather to check on the whereabouts of his niece, Elana. The search leads Van to a cabin in the Olympic Mountains where he stumbles upon a brutal double murder scene. The investigation takes Van into the world of vicious Russian gangsters as well as a corrupt billionaire. Brief scenes of Van’s criminal past with Elana are deftly interspersed with the suspenseful murder investigation. It all culminates into an explosive ending, confirming this is another powerful installment in an addictive and compelling series.
The Watcher in the Wall is the fifth in Laukkanen’s highly-praised thriller series set in the Twin Cities, featuring Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere, agents of the joint BCA-FBI violent crime task force. In this latest, they’re after a creepy Internet stalker who preys on suicidal teens through several death chat forums. It’s a tricky task as there are free speech issues but this pervert goes a step further by filming it. It’s a race against time as they pinpoint the stalker’s next target and hope they’re not too late to save another teen’s life. To complicate matters, Windermere has her own personal struggles with the emotional case. Stevens and Mathers, Windermere’s young agent boyfriend, fear it’s only a matter of time before she goes off the deep end. This is once again, another adrenaline rush Laukkanen fans have come to anticipate.
Tommy Wallach’s debut novel We All Looked Up was one of my favorites of 2015. I couldn’t wait to read his second and prayed he wouldn’t have that “sophomore slump” that befalls some writers. It proved to be an unnecessary concern. Thanks for the Trouble is another insightful coming-of-age story featuring 17-year-old Parker Santé, a cynical high school senior who hasn’t spoken since his dad’s accident five years ago. He communicates with sign language and journal writing. When he meets an odd silver-haired girl, Zelda, he steals her wad of cash only to feel guilty and brings it right back. She promises to give him the money if he applies to college. Once all the money is gone, she’ll leap off the Golden Gate Bridge but refuses to tell Parker why. What unfolds is much more than a madcap adventure of two teens bonding over troubled pasts. It’s a poignant story interspersed with fairy tales and touches of magic that brings the reader to one question: is a full life better than a long one?
In The Tiara on the Terrace, the charming and much-awaited sequel to Kittscher’s Indie bestseller middle grade mystery, The Wig in the Window, Sophie Young and Grace Yang are back as the intrepid tween sleuths, along with the tech-savvy Trista Bottoms. The town of Luna Vista is gearing up for the annual Winter Sun Festival (patterned after the Pasadena Tournament of Roses), but preparations are dampened when the Festival president is killed by a s’more on the campfire float. The police rule it an accident, but Grace and Sophie suspect otherwise. Grace convinces the reluctant Sophie and Trista to be Royal pages so they can infiltrate the court and snoop around. As the trio digs deeper to identify the murderer, Sophie must also wrestle with her feelings of insecurity over trying to fit in as well as her growing feelings for Rod. The result is an engaging mystery with plenty of hilarious moments and surprising plot twists.
If there is such a genre as “paranoid noir,” then The Gun is it. Fuminori Nakamura is making a name for himself here in the States and rightfully so. His first book to be translated to English, The Thief, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. The Gun isn’t for those readers who expect nonstop action. This is a book to be savored, and yes, you’ll white-knuckle it but not due to an adrenaline rush so much as the impending dread that something horrible is going to happen. And the ending doesn’t disappoint. An unremarkable Japanese university student happens upon a gun late at night and takes it. He obsesses over it, allowing it to consume his every thought and eventually it seeps into his entire persona, affecting his behavior with young women as well as his estranged family. It’s like watching a tortuous languid demon possession. The Gun is claustrophobic, drenched in atmosphere, and totally seductive.
There have been numerous psychological thrillers that center around a missing child and the devastating toll it takes on the family. Therefore, it takes a lot for me to pay attention to a debut that utilizes this exact concept, but with Gilly Macmillan’s book, I was hooked from the start. There are expected plot devices, like the strained family dynamics and vicious social media attacks, but it’s done with such skill and confidence that I was completely sucked in. The story jumps between two POVs: Rachel, the distraught mother who loses her eight-year-old child, Ben, in the woods, and DI Jim Clemo, the primary investigator who shoulders the blame for the case’s misguided efforts. Both storylines are equally gripping and expertly-plotted. This is a suspenseful debut that fans of Linwood Barclay and Paula Hawkins will love
This gritty debut took me on an adrenaline-fueled journey through the dark alleys of East Los Angeles to the dive bars of the South Bay. Greg Salem is a Virgil Heights cop who is still recognized by punk rock fans as Fred Despair, the lead singer of Bad Citizen Corporation. He still plays the occasional gig but his punk rock days are far behind him. At least that’s what he thought. After his guitarist/best friend is murdered, Salem vows to bring the killer to justice despite his recent suspension from the department. With the help of his drummer/friend Marco, Salem dives right back into the underworld of his hometown filled with greedy land developers, drug dealers, and old flings. BCC is hard core, in-your-face, blast-the-roof-off storytelling, and as a longtime Hermosa Beach resident, it’s about damn time a novel pays proper homage to the birthplace of Pennywise and Black Flag.
This is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read—in a good way. The entire story is a series of letters written by Ollie and Moritz, two teenage boys who are both isolated from society yet different in every other regard. Ollie, a carefree boy who wears his heart on his sleeve, is allergic to electricity and must live out in the boondocks of rural Michigan. Moritz, a blunt German who doesn’t mince words, has no eyes and a weak heart. He has a pacemaker which means that he and Ollie will never meet because remember, Ollie is allergic to electricity. Moritz can “see” by clicking his tongue, a practice called echolocation. What’s so beautiful about this borderline science fiction story is how these two journey from total strangers to lifelong friends. Thomas’s YA debut of friendship and destiny is stunning and unforgettable.
I’d been wishing for a sequel to Black Water Rising and when I finally got my hands on Pleasantville, I was giddy with excitement. The story takes place in 1996, fifteen years later, and attorney Jay Porter is back, but he’s not doing as well as I’d hoped. He’s struggling to raise his two children alone after the death of his wife, and he has yet to see any money after winning a big case. When Neal Hathorne, the nephew of a prominent mayoral candidate, is arrested for the murder of a local girl, Jay begrudgingly agrees to represent him as a favor to the powerful family. As a result, he becomes entangled in a web of political corruption and dark family secrets that puts a target on his back. Locke knows how to tell a story with incisive thoughtful prose while keeping the reader guessing until the very last page.
The story opens with seventeen-year-old Denton Little waking up from a crazy night of debauchery that he can’t remember. He may or may not have had sex for the first time with a girl who wasn’t his girlfriend. What’s worse is that she’s his best friend’s bitchy sister. But none of that compares to the fact that he is scheduled to die the next day. This is a world where everyone knows the day they will die, and poor Denton’s happens to be one the day of senior prom. You will be laughing until you cry and this is only the first chapter. I absolutely adored Denton Little. He’s genuine, endearing, and you can’t help praying that the purple rash that’s crawling up his body is harmless. But hey, maybe it’d be cool to die at the hands of a purple splotch. This outrageous debut (and Indies Introduces: New Voices pick) charmed me to the very end.
This is an epic YA fantasy told from alternating POVs: Laia, a Scholar fighting to save her brother and Elias, the Martial soldier who is fighting for his freedom. Laia agrees to help the Resistance by going undercover as a slave into the empire’s toughest military academy in exchange for her brother’s freedom. Elias must fight to the death to be the next Martial emperor, a title he doesn’t want despite being the academy’s most promising candidate. Inevitably, Laia and Elias’s paths cross, and it’s like fireworks going off. Despite being on opposite sides of the battle, they realize their destinies are intermingled. The Rome-like world-making here is terrifying and astounding, an impressive unforgettable debut that’s also an Indies Introduces: New Voices pick and a YA Fantastic First Pick for May!
Ziskin’s Ellie Stone investigative reporter series just keeps getting better and better with each book. The third title, Stone Cold Dead, once again showcases Ziskin’s mastery of language. Ellie is my kind of gal—she’s witty, relentless, and doesn’t apologize for throwing back a whiskey after a rough day. But underneath that tough exterior is a young lady who’s haunted by her past and still aches for her late father’s acceptance. This shared vulnerability and sense of loss is what connects Ellie to Darleen Hicks, a local fifteen-year-old girl who turns up missing. Ellie’s investigation takes her on an emotional rollercoaster ride of her own as she peels back the layers of a young teenage girl’s tragic journey. This smart eloquent thriller with its nostalgic 1960s upstate New York setting will make every reader an Ellie Stone fan if they’re not already.
I couldn’t help thinking of the movie The Breakfast Club when I started this debut YA novel about four Seattle high schoolers: “the athlete,” “the slacker,” “the overachiever,” and the “slut;” each chapter told in alternating POVs. We All Looked Up explores the idea of teens shedding their labels, like the 1980s John Hughes film, but with an apocalyptic twist. After scientists announce there’s a 66.6% chance a giant asteroid will strike and destroy Earth in two months, the four teens prepare for an uncertain future in a panicked city. Despite the bleak concept, it’s the novel’s gorgeous imagery, thoughtful prose, and heart-breaking emotion that make it one of the most uplifting books I’ve read in a really long time.
There really aren’t enough YA mysteries out there so when I heard there was a debut mystery that could be best described as L.A. Confidential for the YA reader, I was instantly intrigued. And when I read the first chapter—heck, the first few sentences!—I immediately thought, “Now this is LA noir.” I don’t want to give anything away, but just trust me when I say this is noir set in the Golden Age of Hollywood but with a whole new angle. Instead of an alcoholic loner PI, the protagonist is Alice, a cynical yet vulnerable 16-year-old girl who is determined to find out who beat her older sister to near death. Yes, there are shady characters and surprises lurking around every corner, but it’s Alice’s introspective journey and unsentimental voice that makes Dead to Me a true standout. Our Fantastic Firsts young Adult Pick for March.
The story opens with Army Ranger Van Shaw arriving at his grandfather’s home in Seattle, a home he left ten years ago and not on the best of terms. It’s not exactly a welcoming homecoming either as Van stumbles upon his grandfather lying on the floor, left for dead. This is all in the first chapter and the action doesn’t let up from there. Van is Seattle PD’s number one suspect, of course, and it’s up to Van to track down the killer. The only way to do that is to go back into the criminal underworld his grandfather inhabited, a world Van swore off forever. The deeper he digs, the more shocking secrets he uncovers about his grandfather; not to mention his own demons he’d rather leave buried. I wanted to tear through the book to find out what happens next, but the rich atmospheric details had me savoring it instead.
This YA debut (and Indies Introduce New Voices pick!) has everything I could possibly want in a dystopian fantasy: a rebellious heroine, a dangerous love triangle, and seemingly impossible odds. It all takes place in a world where the color of your blood determines your fate; the superhuman Silvers lord over the common Reds. 17-year-old Mare Barrows bleeds red. She’s a thief who, through a twist of fate, unleashes a power that shocks not only herself but an entire Silver court. Mare is forced to take on the identity of a long-lost Silver princess until the king and queen can figure out what to do with her. It’s a deadly game of double crossings as Mare finds herself caught between the Red rebellion and a Silver prince. Part love story and part revolutionary saga, this is the first in a trilogy with the sequel not coming out soon enough
It’s difficult to find a post-apocalyptic novel with a unique angle, which is why I tend to avoid them. I almost passed on this one, but I was hooked from the first page. What is refreshingly different here is the destruction of the world isn’t caused by say, a rapidly-spreading virus; it’s a gradual and realistic decline involving natural disasters across the nation and a widening gap between the elite and the rest of the population. What I also appreciated is that the focus of the story is on the relationship between Cal and Frida as they struggle with their isolated life in the wilderness. Eventually, the couple embarks on a journey to find others, but the suspicious community they stumble upon unleashes an entirely different nightmare. A chilling, thoughtful, and beautifully-written debut.
This is the second in the Ellie Stone series and it’s just as engrossing as the first. It’s a smart fresh take on the female investigative reporter in that Ellie is only twenty-four-years-old and the setting is 1960s’ New York. Clearly, she has her work cut out for her as she must be twice as clever as her male colleagues and equally brazen. In Ziskin’s latest, Ellie is the first reporter on the scene when a young woman’s body is discovered in the woods of upstate New York. She uncovers small-town scandals and shocking secrets as she navigates through the tight-lipped worlds of academia and high society in her quest to find the killer. Exquisite prose paired with a quick-witted introspective heroine makes this a series you don’t want to miss.
Mystery & Suspense
I’ve been a big Joseph Finder fan since Paranoia. His thrillers always grab me from the beginning, and I inevitably stay up many late nights, unable to put his books down. Suspicion was no exception. It’s the story of Danny Goodman, a single dad who accepts a generous loan from Thomas Galvin, the wealthy father of his daughter’s BFF. “It’s to ensure my daughter’s happiness,” Galvin insists. If Danny’s daughter, Abby, is forced to leave their school, Galvin knows his daughter will be devastated. Danny reluctantly agrees and the next thing he knows, the DEA comes knocking on his door. Danny just made a deal with the devil and the only way to avoid jail time, or worse, is to cooperate. What follows is a violent cat-and-mouse game of deceit and lies that will leave you guessing who the real enemy is all the way to the end.
Meet Joe at MGSD on June 2.
Mystery & Suspense
Normal 0 This is the first crime fiction novel I have read that features an LAPD bicycle cop and hopefully it won’t be my last. Hirahara has definitely carved out a niche for herself with this smart and appealing new series featuring Ellie Rush, a likeable rookie who patrols downtown Los Angeles on her trustworthy bike. When Ellie’s former college classmate, Jenny Nguyen, is found dead, Ellie takes it upon herself to uncover the truth for both personal and professional reasons. What she finds is a possible political conspiracy that reaches all the way to Vietnam and everyone seems to have their own reason for wanting Jenny dead. Not only does Hirahara paint a vivid picture of Los Angeles’s multicultural neighborhoods, from Chinatown to Highland Park, but she’s created a compelling hero whom I definitely want to see more of.
Mystery & Suspense
After reading this chilling psychological thriller, I can’t help but wonder why I waited so long to read Michael Robotham. In his latest title, we meet Marnie Logan, a woman who is struggling to make ends meet after her husband vanishes off the face of the earth. Not only does she have to deal with the debt her husband left behind, but she swears she’s being watched. The story follows different POVs, like Joe O’Loughlin, the psychologist who treats Marnie, her teenage daughter, Zoe, and Vincent Ruiz, the cop who agrees to help Marnie, despite the bad feeling he has about her. When bodies start piling up in her wake, it’s hard to believe she’s as innocent as she claims. If all of Robotham’s books are this dark and deviant, then I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one.
Mystery & Suspense
It takes a bold writer to pick up where Raymond Chandler left off with the beloved Philip Marlowe series. I wasn’t too sure what to expect from Benjamin Black, the pen name for acclaimed Irish novelist John Banville. Could he emulate Chandler’s poetic hard-boiled prose while adding his own unique style? The answer is a resounding yes. Marlowe is as sharp-tongued and lonely as ever and it’s like running into an old friend. We’re taken back to 1950s Bay City where a mysterious beautiful blonde, Clare Cavendish, hires the private detective to search for her missing former lover. Marlowe’s search inadvertently leads to a series of increasingly bizarre events, numerous dead bodies, and corrupt characters. This should appeal to diehard Marlowe fans while also garnering new ones
Mystery & Suspense
I never read Owen Laukkanen’s first two novels in the Stevens and Windermere series, so I wasn’t sure if starting off with book three would already put me at a disadvantage. I needn’t have worried. There was sufficient backstory to catch me up to speed, although now I really want to pick up The Professionals and start the series from the beginning. State investigator Kirk Stevens and FBI agent Carla Windermere are likeable from the start, thanks to their quickfire banter and obvious chemistry. Then there’s the roller coaster plot that leads Stevens and Windermere on a relentless chase to track down the mastermind behind a kill-for-hire website. This is a wild high-tech thriller with plenty of action and punch.
Mystery & Suspense
A story of a couple who believes they have seen their missing child? Too formulaic, I thought. But I’m so glad I gave this mystery a chance. It’s filled with suspense, emotion, and wonderfully tight writing. Robin and Harry are a young couple living in Tangier, where they lose their three-year-old son during an earthquake. Five years later, Harry believes he’s spotted his son in Dublin. It’s not just about the search for their missing child but about the disintegration of a marriage and the frailty of the human psyche. The shocking twist at the end made me wonder how I didn’t see it coming, but that’s the beauty of this book. It pulls you into the minds of the characters so expertly that you forget you are reading a story. A gorgeous and thrilling debut from Dublin-based writers Karen Gillece and Paul Perry that everyone must read.
This is one of the most unique and craziest books I have ever read, and I mean that in a good way. It’s hilarious, sexy, weird, unexpected, and poignant. This sci-fi/coming-of-age story centers around sixteen-year-old Austin, who is obsessed with chronicling everything that’s happening to him, and there is a lot happening to him. He lives in Ealing, Iowa, the city known for the most decapitations, where he hangs out with his best friend Robby Brees and his girlfriend, Shann. Austin spends a great deal of the story struggling with whom he loves most. This is in addition to saving the world from the Unstoppable Soldiers which are basically six-foot-tall grasshoppers who are horny and extremely hungry. This story certainly isn’t for everyone; there is plenty of cursing and sex. But for those who are ready for two-headed babies and genetically-modified corn, this is a brave and painfully honest book. - Sarah
Sixteen-year-old Rowan Areno always grumbles about her dad’s overprotectiveness which is pretty typical for a cop. “Nothing is going to happen, Dad,” she always says. Until one day it does. When he responds to what will be a shocking tragedy for the entire community, Rowan’s world as she knows it drastically changes. She seeks comfort in Eli, a boy with his own painful secrets. Not even Eli, though, can protect Rowan from the ensuing aftermath that rocks her entire family. This book of love and loss is raw, powerful, and painfully honest. Have a box of tissues handy when you read this. - Sarah
Charming Felix Brewer meets the beautiful Bambi Gottschalk in 1959 Baltimore, and it’s love at first sight. Seventeen years later, Felix goes on the lam when he’s busted for illegal gambling, leaving Bambi and their three daughters behind. When Felix’s mistress Julie Saxony also disappears, everyone assumes Felix summoned her until Julie’s remains are later found in a park. In 2012, Roberto “Sandy” Sanchez, a retired Baltimore detective, reopens the cold case and discovers a web of secrets spanning three decades with the five intriguing women at the heart of it. This is a beautifully-told intricate tale that smoothly alternates between past and present as well as character POVs. It’s not the mystery that captures your attention, although Lippman will have you guessing until the very end, but it’s the secrets, heartbreaks, and triumphs of the Brewer women that will linger in your head for many days after. - Sarah
Lana Granger has lied her entire life about who she is and where she comes from. She has blocked out so many details of her troubled past that it’s hard to recall everything. About to graduate from college, she takes on a job babysitting a troubled boy named Luke who knows how to manipulate every adult in his life. Lana is determined not to let him manipulate her, but he’s extremely smart and calculating. When Lana’s best friend Beck disappears from campus, Lana’s carefully controlled life begins to unravel as police and friends question her. She will do anything to keep her secrets buried, but someone is determined to expose her for the liar she really is. This is a creepy and disturbing psychological thriller that kept me awake for many nights.
BEST BET 2013 PICK
Leah Curtis is a struggling teenage mother who has uprooted herself in order to provide a better life for her baby girl, Addy. Everything seems to be going great; she rents a room in a beautiful home where a cute boy named Chris happens to live. For the first time, Leah feels safe and loved. There’s only one thing: her entire life is a lie. She isn’t Leah Curtis, but Faith Kurtz, daughter of an addict mother, and Addy isn’t her baby. Leah does everything she can to shield the truth from Chris and his family, but it’s only a matter of time before her past catches up with her. Can love prevail even if it’s built on lies? This is a heartwarming suspenseful read that will have you rooting for Leah despite her flaws and mistakes.
BEST BET 2013 PICK
This brilliant YA novel features an unconventional narrator and a spirited young heroine who steals books. Despite the bleak Nazi Germany setting, it warms the heart. Originally published in 2005, it is now a major motion picture.
BEST BET 2013 PICK
A twisty suspenseful debut with intricate plotting and multiple layers of deceit. I'm eagerly awaiting Pavone's next novel.
BEST BET 2013 PICK
A smart and gritty debut of a flawed ex-cop turned restaurateur who becomes entangled with the wrong people, people who want to keep their dirty secrets buried which is something this ex-cop is all too familiar with.
BEST BET 2013 PICK
A heart-pounding thriller that doesn’t let up. I became a huge Gregg Hurwitz fan after this read. Hint: Check out The Crime Writer.
BEST BET 2013 PICK
I have been a big Mo Hayder fan since Birdman, one of the creepiest novels I’ve ever read. Here is the sixth installment of her chilling series featuring DI Jack Caffery investigating the release of a mental patient who may be tied to a series of bizarre incidents at the hospital. The story alternates between Caffery and AJ, the staff nurse, a compelling and complex protagonist in his own right.