The Whisper Network by Chandler Baker
Chandler uses the #MeToo movement as a springboard for her adult fiction debut that mixes women’s social history with a credible murder mystery. When the CEO of Truviv, a Dallas sportswear company drops dead of a heart attack, General Counsel Ames Garrett is poised to take over. Slowly, it becomes clear that Garrett has lecherous tendencies, a fact in-house attorney Sloane Glover admits, though she also admits to having an affair with him before she married; when Sloane adds Garrett’s names to a spreadsheet that is circulating amoung the women of Dallas, a who’s-who of sleaze, Sloane teams up with her friends Ardie Valdez, new mom Grace Stanton, and new hire Katherine Bell, into taking action against Garrett. Chandler includes a compelling murder mystery, as well as the different stories of working moms and the work-life balance, as well as sexual harassment in the workplace.
Midnight at the Blackbird Café by Heather Webber
Anna Kate has returned to her mother’s hometown of Wicklow, Alabama, to bury her Granny Zee, and to fulfill the terms of Zee’s will which states that Anna Kate must spend a couple months running Zee’s Blackbird Café before it can be sold. Anna Kate tries to stay to herself the best she can, but she is bombarded by locals and tourists including the blackbird seekers who have come to town to find the elusive bird, and to sample the magical blackbird pie, a recipe Anna Kate cannot quite perfect. Also, back in town is Natalie and her young daughter Ollie, to face Natalie’s overpowering mother. As the two women’s stories unfold, they parallel each other at times, and then converge, in a most unusual way and may help explain to Anna Kate why her mother left Wicklow as a young, pregnant woman, and about the car accident that killed her father and broke her mother’s heart. Quirky and charming, Wicklow and its residents welcome readers as surely as they do Anna Kate and Natalie, and make them their own. The perfect read on a sultry summer day.
The Other Mrs. Miller by Allison Dickson
Every since her father’s death, and the subsequent parade of women accusing the Chicago millionaire of sexual misconduct, Phoebe Miller has all but become a recluse in her home in an exclusive Chicago neighborhood, drinking her days away, arguing with and alienating herself from, her therapist husband Wyatt over her unwillingness to consider adoption after a stillborn son and multiple IVF treatments. Phoebe notices a rusted-out car stalking her house most days, but can’t bring herself to confront the driver or even call the police. After Vicki Napier, her 18-year-old son, and husband move in next door, things start to get interesting and downright sordid in Phoebe’s world. Secrets emerged, secrets stay hidden, a murder occurs, twists and turns abound, making it difficult to know who to trust, even after the last page is turned. A debut domestic thriller by an author worth watching.
Someone We Know by Shari Lapena
A teenage boy has been breaking into homes and spying on people using their computers in a quiet, upstate New York suburb, learning the secrets of his neighbors. Robert Pierce’s wife Amanda told him she was going on a weekend shopping trip to New York with a friend and never returns, and the friend knew nothing about the trip. Robert reports his wife’s absence with little feeling to the police, but someone knows where Amanda might be and why. Tensions and distrust rises as neighbors try to suss out who has been spying on them and who knows their secrets in this well-paced, clever domestic thriller.
Four investment bankers from the Wall Street firm Stanhope and Sons are called to an after-hours team building exercise which turns out to be an Escape Room in the form of an elevator in a building under construction. Vincent, Sam, Jules, and Sylvia quickly realize this is not an event organized by their company but by someone with a vendetta, someone who has set the clues to point toward one of their now dead colleagues, Sara Hall. Told in alternating chapters, the present from within the elevator and the past, narrated by Sara Hall, who is quickly drawn into the excitement of working in high stakes baking, but is not sure it is worth the risk, especially when one member of their team dies. Sara’s narrative propels the story forward, while the foursome in the elevator slow things down a bit, dragging out their search for clues and their solutions. All in all, though, this debut thriller from Australian Goldin is worth a read. A Library Reads pick for July.
The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal
Edith and her sister Helen grew up on a Minnesota farm during the 1950’s. Edith married Stanley Magnusson, living a typical life, scrimping to make ends meet, but making pies that people will drive miles and hours to get a taste of. Helen married Orval Blotz, heir to the failing Blotz Beer brewery, and is determined to make a success out of the business. Using her inheritance money, the entire proceeds from the farm, something that estranges her from Edith for much of the rest of their lives, Helen tries to kick start the company. Edith, ponders over, but does not wallow in, how her life might have been different had she had her share of the inheritance. After Stanley dies, Edith must work two jobs to make ends meet, especially after she takes in her orphaned granddaughter Diana, who has her own ideas as to how to keep Edith afloat. Through a series of events, Diana finds herself working in a brewery, eventually becoming one of the top brewers in Minnesota. Told from the points of view of these women, in both flashbacks and present day, the story is charming and touching, never mired down in grief, anger, or despair, and becomes an uplifting tribute to familial love and loyalty. A Library Reads pick for July.
Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson
Amy Whey lives a quiet life in Pensacola, Florida, giving diving lessons, mothering her teenage step-daughter Maddie and her new son Oliver, and helping her best friend Charlotte run the neighborhood book club. But Amy is keeping a secret from everyone including her husband, a secret that is threatened to be revealed when beguiling Angelica Roux attends their book group one night. Roux seems to enjoy pitting the women against each other as they reveal their deepest, darkest secrets. When she gets Amy alone, Roux gets Amy to admit to her secret and threatens to tell all about the secret Amy has kept hidden unless Amy gives Roux what Roux wants. As Amy races to keep her secret without succumbing to a blackmailer she faces her past and learns some startling truths about her present. Clever, dark, and twisty, this departure from Jackson’s usual fare has enough levity interjected to keep from dragging down the pace of the narrative. A Library Reads Hall of Fame author.
Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman
Lippman’s stand alone thriller is set in 1960’s Baltimore when Maddie Schwartz, and the age of 37, decides she has had enough of being a good Jewish housewife, and leaves her husband and son to strike out as a journalist, a long secretly held ambition, a touch job for a woman during this time. The body of a young black woman, Cleo Sherwood, is found in a fountain, and no one really investigated the death wrote about it, and seems the perfect opportunity to Maddie. So does stumbling across the body of 11-year-old Tessie Fine, and then corresponding with her killer to learn the truth about her death. Maddie stumbles across stories and then tromps around in the investigations, not realizing who she is angering or what she is getting herself into, making people reveal things they’d rather keep hidden. Chapters alternate between Cloe’s ghost, keeping a close eye on Maddie, and the people Maddie runs across in her investigative reporting, people in her other life she wouldn’t have given a second thought to. Lippman packs as much into a story as she dares without leaving it feeling overstuffed, and always has a few surprises for the last pages. A Library Reads Hall of Fame author.