Another great read from Elizabeth Strout! Highly enjoyable story about how nobody can completely know anyone, how our pasts and secrets can harm us, and how we reconcile with loss and grief. Lovely.
Gus Moreno presents us with nightmare fuel with his first horror novel, THIS THING BETWEEN US. After the death of his wife, a young man heads to a cabin in the mountains -- both to escape his grief and the strange things occurring around his smart speaker (think haunted Alexa times a hundred!) Soon, he is under attack from forces from another dimension and it appears his dead wife is attempting to communicate with him. But is it her or is it something else. This surreal, literary horror novel is genuinely scary with the scariest scenes I have read in ages! For people who like Ian Reid, Stephen Graham Jones, or the movies HEREDITARY or MIDSOMMER. So good! This one will haunt me.
Richard Osman follows up his delightful THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB with a new sequel, THE MAN WHO DIED TWICE, bringing back all the charming characters from the first novel and adding a few new suspects and shady villains. When ex-MI5's Elizabeth gets a note from her ex-husband, she is drawn into a web of murder, diamonds, and psychological mind games as the Thursday Murder Club becomes involved in spies, thieves, and the mafia! This was so much fun, and the characters are just as delightful as ever, but the mystery is a bit darker and twistier. . . which I love. I truly thought I knew who the killer was, but boy was I wrong. I can't wait to introduce new customers to these fun books!
Colson Whitehead delves into the mystery heist genre with the utterly brilliant HARLEM SHUFFLE. Ray Carney (a bit crooked, but not bent yet) is unwillingly coerced into a robbery at an upscale hotel by his shiftless cousin, Freddie, but nothing goes as planned. Through murders, blackmail, and a twisted revenge-fueled plotline, Whitehead steers us toward an ultimate battle between the almost morally gray territories of Chester Himes and Donald Westlake through the eyes of characters we truly care about. The ending is an eye-opening, show-stopping wow -- cleverly planned all along by our maestro at the helm of this terrifically entertaining crime novel.
This is the thriller of the year! From the creator of the Scandinavian mini-series THE KILLING, THE CHESTNUT MAN is an unbelievably fast-paced and exciting page-turner. I literally had trouble putting it down to sleep! A serial killer is loose, a cold case kidnapping is brought back to life, and a politician is attacked from all sides. This is the kind of book Thomas Harris used to write and one of the best plotted mysteries in a long time. What a wonderful group of vivid characters and what a ride! Whew!
I don't read a lot of graphic novels, but I was immediately drawn into the story of BALLAD FOR SOPHIE, a new book by Filipe Melo and Juan Cavia. This story of two rival pianists -- one innately gifted and one who struggles to be the greatest -- and their decades long friendship/rivalry. It mirrors Nozart/Salieri in many ways, but this one includes Nazis, diabolic bargains, and many twists and turns. The art is quite beautiful and the story was incredibly compelling.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia will never be accused of repeating herself, and she brings us, in CERTAIN DARK THINGS, a vampire story like no other. When a young homeless man befriends a vampire who is seeking revenge against the tribe that killed her family, all of Mexico City will be put at risk. This novel feels like an old noir film (specifically THE KILLERS) as seen through the lens of a supernatural/science fiction story. Femme fatales, ruthless gangsters, innocents succumbing to influence and violence, and the world's coolest tattooed dog all invade a richly detailed Mexico, creating a noir thriller unlike any other. the pages flew as I read into the night, and I'd love to see sequels, please!
MRS. MARCH by Virginia Feito is a whip=smart and morbidly funny look at the descent into madness of one upper class woman whose life appears perfect on the outside. When a simple comment about her husband's new novel takes her off guard, Mrs. March (who doesn't get a first name until the ending) is forced to re-examine everything she believes . . . including the fact that her husband may be a murderer. Or is she merely losing her mind? Feito keeps her cards close to her chest, revealing snippets of the truth until the shocking ending. This is a very well written novel, creepy and detailed in all the right ways (MRS. DALLOWAY was certainly an inspiration, as is 'The Yellow Wallpaper'). For those who enjoy literary thrills, this is a good one!
ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES by Charlotte McConaghy is a brilliant follow-up to her best-selling book MIGRATIONS, a mystery veiled in a world on the brink of environmental disaster. Inti has issues in her past that haunt her to the day, hardening her intoi a person she barely recognizes, when she is set to reintroduce wolves into the forests of Scotland. After a man is mauled, she sets out to protect her animals and her twin sister (also scarred by past relationships) while attempting to discover if a wolf is actually the culprit. The writing is sublime, and the mystery is shocking and intense, but this is more than a mere mystery. It's an examination of how we all attempt to reconcile the wildness within us wit the passivity of domestication. in the end, are we truly that different from a beast? And is that a bad thing? This is one terrific book!
Megan Abbott has always been expert at diving into the darkest parts of women's' souls, but THE TURNOUT, her newest novel, is on a whole new level. While preparing for the season's performances of The Nutcracker, two sisters who run a ballet school run afoul of a dangerous contractor hired to fix their studio after a small fire. One falls for the contractor's dark sexual spell while the other sister succumbs to suspicions and doubts about her own marriage. Mirroring the shadowy underbelly of the ballet The Nutcracker (as well as the dark, sensual world of fairy tales), THE TURNOUT is soon twisting and turning in unexpected ways as family secrets and lies come to light. Full of gasp-inducing plot twists and simmering with an uncomfortable sexuality, THE TURNOUT is easily Megan Abbott's best book, a work of fiction on par with the best of Patricia Highsmith or Shirley Jackson. I can't wait to recommend this one to customers!
A really fun, fast-paced horror/thriller that takes on the tropes of the slasher film (think HALLOWEEN, SCREAM, FRIDAY THE 13th) and lovingly dissects them. A group of final girls from terribly familiar situations find themselves under attack. Are their respective slashers out of jail or does somebody else have it in for them? While Stephen Graham, Jones forthcoming book, MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW, takes a more metaphysical and thoughtful look at final girls and slasher flicks, Hendrix's new story is primarily focused upon mystery and action. a speeding bullet (or arrow or machete) of a story that thunders along superbly. It's a fun romp with many nods to the genre and it will be devoured by horror fans.
HEATWAVE by Victor Jestin was a publishing phenomena in France, and it's easy to see why. This existential story begins with 17 year old Leo witnessing another young man hanging himself -- and he does nothing to stop it, allowing the other boy to die. Then, he instinctively buries the body in the sand dunes near a resort where his family is vacationing. Over the next 24 hours, Leo will be wracked with guilt, meet the girl of his dreams, finally understand his friend Louis, and get into his first fight. In Camus-esque fashion, Jestin really gets into the mind of Leo, and the reader is the audience for his confused adolescent thoughts. This novella, barely a hundred pages in length, packs a wallop when Leo must confront his own desires and his own guilt. It's a tiny marvel!
BATH HAUS by P.J. Vernon is a white-knuckle ride of a thriller, a book where you want to scream at the characters for their bad (if understandable) choices while you just cannot stop reading. When a young recovering addict decides to cheat just once on his older lover, he goes to a bath house for anonymous sex. . . but gets far more than he bargained for, nearly dying at the hands of a killer. Now, with the murderer stalking him and his lover and the police breaking down his intricate web of lies, he stumbles into twist after twist. trust me -- I changed my mind about what was happening three times in the last 50 pages! Vernon is very good at portraying both the quiet life this young man desires with the sexy trance-induced world his addictions crave. This is a bullet of a book, intense, scary, and very sexy. Fans of Gillian Flynn and Aimee Molloy will enjoy this one!
THE MAIDENS by Alex Michaelides is another thrilling treat from the author of the terrific THE SILENT PATIENT (and there's a fun Easter egg to that book contained in this one). When a friend of the niece of Mariana, a group psychotherapist, is killed at Oxford, the newly widowed woman rushes to her niece's side to help her emotionally. What she discovers is a cult-like group of classics-oriented intellectual, privileged young women in the thrall of a suspicious professor, several more murders, and more red herrings than you can shake a copy of Euripides at! The pacing is breath-taking, the final reveal is fair and surprising, and the mystery unfurls like lightning. This is a book that, like its predecessor, is very hard to put down! The plot is dark and cerebral, and the writing is elegant. Michaelides may be our next great thriller writer! Just wonderful!
RABBITS is a surreal adventure from Terry Miles that reads like Umberto Eco and Stephen King had a baby with the Wachowskis while under the influence of some pretty great drugs! Have you ever had a memory that proved to be untrue (think the Berenstain Bears for instance)? RABBITS, a game played in the real world, tries to explain these anomalies. A game played in real life as players track down clues in patterns that unnaturally occur, RABBITS draws in the reader along with unlikely player K. (A nod to Kafka) as K. discovers clues and shortcuts even as other players around him are disappearing and dying. Is it a conspiracy or a hallucination? This paranoia sci-fi thriller ticks off every button, providing a truly fun roller coaster ride that barely lets you breathe as you read...far into the night. It's funny, twisted, surreal, and exciting, and I had a blast reading it!
THE DISAPPEARING ACT by Catherine Steadman is both a juicy look at pilot season in Hollywood, when actors fly in from everywhere to attempt to snag that great role, and a fast-paced, thoroughly engaging mystery! And it works on both levels! When an emerging actress arrives in Hollywood, she meets another woman at an audition, quickly striking up a friendship. then, the other woman disappears. Is she dead, murdered, or is this all a sick and twisted game? You'll have to read (probably long into the wee hours) to find out! I really enjoyed this mystery, and Steadman's experience as an actress lent credibility and verisimilitude to this twisting and turning tale! This is a lot of fun, a mixture of Judith Krentz and Ruth Ware and I cannot wait to sell it to customers!
ONE TWO THREE by Laurie Frankel is the kind of novel that immediately grabs your attention and never lets go. In a marvelously constructed narrative, told in the three distinctly different voices of the Mitchell triplets, the reader learns how the town of Bourne had its water poisoned 16 years ago by a chemical company, resulting in many deaths and even more birth defects. Now, that dreaded company has returned to re-open their factory, and it's up to the Mitchell triplets -- Mab (who yearns to escape and is the least affected by the chemical spill), Mirabel (the smartest one who has social issues and is located somewhere on the spectrum) and Monday (the town's purveyor of books, confined to a wheelchair) -- to find proof that the company is up to something. Using three instantly-recognizable voices, Frankel draws us into the world of Bourne, and we become so enamored with the characters and the fate of the town that it's nearly impossible to stop reading once you begin! Suspenseful, funny, heart-wrenching and ultimately hopeful . . . this is a novel book clubs will adore. For lovers of Barbara Kingsolver, Jodi Picoult, and Richard Russo, but this will be a book I try to handsell to everyone. It's that good!
Rawley finds a perfect combination of acerbic wit and poignant heart-tugging drama in this story of a gay uncle taking in his brother's kids when tragedy strikes. It's a lovely tightrope act, filled with laughter and tears, all served with a sparkling cocktail and a cute dog named after Marlene Dietrich (she always finds the best lighting!) I fell in love with Uncle Patrick and this delightful twist on Auntie Mame!
Ben Winters' THE QUIET BOY gives the reader two fantastic courtroom dramas for the price of one! Ten years ago, a young man's family begins a malpractice suit against a surgeon after their teenaged son becomes stuck in time after a brain surgery, walking in circles but not connecting with the outside world. Now, the father of the boy is being arraigned on murder charges related to a witness on the first case. With just a touch of the fantastical, Winters draws us into the lives of the boy's family and the lawyer (and his own son) who defends them in court. This is gripping stuff, and it is very hard to stop reading as the clues to the mysteries are exposed. This unique mystery will entertain both courtroom drama aficionados and sci-fi fans. It's one heck of a compelling read!
Claire Fuller's UNSETTLED GROUND is a novel that immerses you in its world through rich language, vibrant imagery, and characters so realistic they become friends to the reader. Jeanie and Julius are twins living with their mother and their dog in a cottage in rural England. When their mother dies suddenly, they find themselves homeless and questioning everything they have ever been told about themselves. Secrets emerge from the past like spring tulips from April snow, and I couldn't go to sleep until I discovered their fate. this is the kind of book I want to shove into readers' hands and scream, "Read this one! You'll love it!" I certainly did! Perfect for fans of THE DUTCH HOUSE and RED AT THE BONE. I cannot recommend it enough!
I love mysteries set in the world of books and publishing, and THE PLOT by Jean Hanff Korelitz is areal hum-dinger!
What a spectacular book, a real treasure.
SORROWLAND by Rivers Solomon is a phantasmagorical experiment, falling somewhere between the deconstructed fairy tales of Angela Carter and the sci-fi terrors of Octavia Butler -- all seen through a modern genderqueer lens. At 15, Vern, pregnant and haunted by ghosts, flees the compound where she's been living, a sort of black survivalist group. After giving birth to twins and defeating a creature in the woods, she finds her way to civilization and her own sexuality, all while physically changing into something both beautiful and terrible. Dark, brooding, and full of gorgeous expressive writing, this novel is a stunning achievement in modern horror/dark fantasy. Adventurous readers are going to adore it!
CAUL BABY by Morgan Jerkins is an epic tale of two families in Harlem over three generations -- one family in which infants are born with a caul that gives them healing powers and one family who was refused help and suffered because they didn't get a piece of the caul. With touches of magical realism and straight-forward prose, Jerkins intertwines the fates of these two families until the lovely finale. It's a good story told well, and I think anyone who loves a good 'family story', whether by Emma Straub or Terry McMillon, will enjoy this suspenseful tale!
THE WHISPERING HOUSE by Elizabeth Brooks is a standout gothic literary mystery that features art, sisterhood, forgiveness, murder, and revenge in a simmering brew certain to please almost anyone who desires a good read well-written! After her older sister's death (murder?), Freya becomes obsessed with the struggling artist and his dying mother inhabiting a run-down mansion by the seashore where her sister's body was discovered. After she moves in and becomes the artist's lover, secrets are revealed until the shocking climax. Brooks writes with a deft hand, keeping the story moving full speed ahead and injecting bits of humor and satire amidst the atmospheric gothic-ness of it all (there's more than one nod to NORTHANGER ABBY!) This was suspenseful and tragic and just a darn good read for a windy wintry evening.
This is a delightful mystery, sort of Golden-Age tinged, about someone killing mystery writers and the two concurrent investigations (one police and one amateur) to capture the killer. It has charming characters and a great sense of place, and it barrels along swiftly. Just the kind of book I need during trying times to take my mind off of things.
Ishiguro does it again, creating a multi-genre novel that defies description but entertains and pulls at every heartstring while doing so. Klara is an advanced android purchased by a sick girl and her mother to be an artificial friend. With a keen sense of character and an eye for detail, Kazuo Ishiguro brings Klara to life, posing barvbed questions about what it means to be human and what are we doing to ourselves in this modern, machine-driven age. Beautiful, haunting, and sweet, this is a book to beat for the best of the year -- and it is only January!
THE LOST APOTHECARY is a fun historical novel that parallels a modern story as well, all with a hint of mystery. Who is the woman selling poisons in 1791 and why did she suddenly stop? This is a fast and fun read, sure to please lovers of MJ Rose or Pam Jenoff.
Sarah Langen continues her winning streak with her newest domestic psychological thriller, a sort of CRUCIBLE (or, more likely, The Twilight Zone episode THE MONSTERS ARE DUE ON MAPLE STREET) for modern times. At the beginning, we know an entire family is murdered in a Long Island suburb, but we do not know which one. After a sinkhole opens up and a child dies, accusations of neglect and sexual misconduct pits neighbors against neighbors until threats become violence. How it all turns out is disturbing and all to real in this incendiary climate in which truth is not believed but wild accusations are. This is gripping, scary stuff and it is difficult to stop reading until you get to the horrifying and believable finale.
LOLA ON FIRE is one high-octane thriller, a dark and violent epic cat and mouse game that takes place over 27 years. It feels as though Quentin Tarentino and Lee Child wrote a book together. A young man is blackmailed into stealing something, but it's all a frame-up, and he is left with a corpse on his hands. Why? The answer lies in a bloodbath when one lone female assassin named Lola took out nearly the entire mob in one day. On the run, the man and his handicapped sister cross the country to seek out answers, closely followed by a killer so terrifying and cold, you'll never forget her. Vengeance and thrills follow! What separates this book from so many action novels, is the attention to character -- you truly want these people to make it out alive. Will they? You need to read the book to find out!
A fascinating bildungsroman about a girl on the cusp of becoming a woman in San Francisco, whose best friend/worst enemy disappears. It's a novel about illusion vs truth and self-doubt, but it's also about 'that girl', the one all the other girls wanted to be and all the boys wanted to love. The lead character is entrancing and felt very real to me.
In A THOUSAND SHIPS, Natalie Haynes's intricate deconstruction of THE ILIAD, we finally hear the stories of the women of the Trojan War. From Helen to Cassandra, goddesses and muses, queens and Amazons -- all finally get a voice to share their own experiences during this tragic ten-year war and its aftermath. Haynes weaves a tapestry of first person accounts, grounded by the experiences of the Trojan Women, and the writing is beautiful, the connections seamless. Fans of Madeline Miller and Mary Renault are going to adore this new book, as I did!
Ever wanted to take a Master Class in writing and reading short fiction? George Saunders leads just such a class in A SWIM IN A POND IN THE RAIN. Concentrating on 7 classic Russian tales by the likes of Tolstoy, Checkov, and Turganev (included here), he guides you through becoming a better reader as well as a better writer. Entertaining, erudite, and, most of all, fun...this is a wonderful book for any literature lover!
Paraic O'Connell's THE HOUSE ON VESPER SANDS is a Victorian gothic supernatural mystery...similar in many ways to Dan Vyleta's SMOKE. After a seamstress commits suicide with a cryptic message stitched into her skin, a detective, a seminary student, and a journalist all search for answers as more and more young women go missing in London. The characters are a delight and the writing is often quite funny, despite the morbid trappings. I enjoyed it immensely,