Journalist Lo Blacklock has been writing for a travel magazine for over ten years without really making any progress. Now, she is offered the assignment of a lifetime: a maiden voyage on an exclusive, very small, luxury cruise ship, The Aurora. Lo is thrilled at the opportunity and is enjoying the North Sea scenery, the dinner parties with free flowing alcohol and the interesting guests, even if most of them are journalists. One night, after drinking quite a bit Lo is certain she hears a body being thrown overboard from the cabin next to her and that there is blood on the divider between the two balconies. The staff assures Lo she has just had a nightmare and that, in fact, Cabin 10 has been
empty for the entire cruise. Lo is gobsmacked as she borrowed mascara from the woman in Cabin 10 just as the cruise began a tube of mascara that has now disappeared. Sure that something is going on though not sure what, Lo begins to ask questions and look around not realizing that someone is watching her and doesn’t want her to learn the truth. The events that unfold are frightening, if at times unbelievable, and news stories and e-mails at the end of chapters leave the young journalist’s fate in question. Not as scary and taut as Ware’s debut thriller In a Dark, Dark Wood but nonetheless and interesting twist on Agatha Christie’s locked room mysteries.
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
Sam, his wife cellist Clementine and their daughters Holly and Poppy have been invited to Clementine’s oldest friend’s house for tea. Erika has in turn, along with Clementine’s family, been invited to her next-door neighbor’s house for a barbecue. Clementine and Sam agree, but the chain of events that is set off at Vid and Tiffany’s makes Clementine wish she had never gone to the barbecue. In the two months since the barbecue, it hasn’t stopped raining and tensions that have always been below the surface between Clementine and Erika continue to mount and manifest themselves in most unexpected ways. As Clementine and Sam and their children, Erika and Oliver, and Vid, Tiffany and their young daughter individually and together, deal with the events of the barbecue, truths about that afternoon and evening emerge, the effects even further reaching then they all originally suspected. Told in alternating voices of the adults and in alternating times, past and present, not only is what occurred at the barbecue revealed, but so are petty jealousies, long held feelings of guilt and resentment, redefining relationships and changing lives forever.
All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
One night at a party in a Connecticut suburb, young Jenny Kramer is raped in the woods. When her parents meet her in the emergency room, they make the decision to have a drug administered to her that will make her mind forget the rape. As Jenny’s body heals from the injuries she sustained, there is something in her psyche that is just out of her grasp and causing her more trauma than dealing with the emotions of the rape might have done. As Jenny struggles, her parents try to help her as best as they can, but they are really not equipped for such things: her mother Charlotte pretends it never happened and her father Tom grows increasingly frustrated with the police department’s inability to find the perpetrator and her brother Lucas isn’t sure what to think. The narrative is told from an unusual point of view which takes some getting used to, but once the narrator’s identity is revealed, it makes sense and adds another level to the story. Full of twists and turns, along with ethical and medical dilemmas, this psychological thriller picks up speed until the very surprising, very unexpected conclusion.
Arrowood by Laura McHugh
Arden has returned to her family home on the Mississippi River in Southern Iowa to mourn the loss of her father. Overcome with memories, Arden relives the summer twenty years ago when her young twin sisters, Violet and Tabitha, were abducted, never to be found. But the her house and the river hold many secrets and when a true crime writer arrives to tell Arrowood's story, Arden becomes determined to finally learn what happened to her sisters, no matter the cost, though she doesn't realize until it is too late, exactly what that cost will be. With vivid imagery, the rivers and water playing a large part in the foreshadowing of events and a steamy Gothic atmosphere, Arden's grief is often tangible in this visceral novel.
Killer Look by Linda Fairstein
NYC ADA and head of the Sex Crimes Unit Alexandra Cooper is staying at her Martha’s Vineyard home fighting to regain a sense of safety and security after being kidnapped and held hostage; with her is her boyfriend Detective Mike Chapman who is trying to be supportive of Alex without letting her wallow in her fear. Alex is terrified to be alone but perks up a bit when she hears Mike talking about an unidentified woman who was pulled out of the East River. Deciding to follow Mike back to Manhattan, Alex arrives in the middle of Fashion Week and though she is still on leave from the DA’s office, in the middle of a murder investigation with Mike and his partner Mercer Wallace, feeling a little more life her old self as she navigates the cut-throat world of fashion. Once her boss, Paul Battaglia gets wind that Alex is back in the city, he attempts to contact her, not about her return to work, but about seemingly to either explain himself, or warn Alex away from what she suspects are some mis-dealings the up-for-reelection DA has had with a prominent minister. Even on leave, Alex is back in her element investigating a murder with Mike and Mercer, slowly letting life heal herself and return her to her old self until a shocking and unbelievable ending promises to change this for Alex. Though not one of the best entries, fast-paced investigations, tough, multi-faceted characters and on-going back stories make Linda Fairstein’s Alex Cooper series one not to be missed.
Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown
From an outsider’s point of view, Madeleine Spencer has it all: a successful husband, a gorgeous Chicago condo and all the time in the world to volunteer and be a docent at her favorite art museums. Five years into her marriage, however, Madeleine is finally willing to admit to herself that she married Philip because of her family’s expectations and that she is very unhappy, feels as if she doesn’t fit into the life she is living and is tired of his controlling ways. Returning to her home town of Magnolia to visit her widowed mother, Madeleine is met with the surprise that her mother intends to sell the family home; Madeleine admits she was never terribly attached to the house, but feels wistful all the same. Finding her grandmother’s Margie’s diaries detailing her life just after World War, Madeleine realizes she comes by her feelings of not fitting in but is given hope as Margie takes a trip to Europe as her cousin’s chaperone but ends up staying in Jazz Age Paris against the wishes and protestations of her parents. As Madeleine rediscovers herself through these diaries and her time in Magnolia, she begins to paint again, a passion long forgotten, and learns more about her family, reconnecting with her mother who she always felt was disapproving and critical. Madeleine, witty and kind, comes into her own during this time of rediscovery. She quickly learns that other people aren’t going to change, you have to change and change your expectations and reactions to others and that it is okay not to do what is expected of you and often has the best results.
Little Girl Gone by Gerry Schmitt
Afton Tangler is once again a single-mother but as family liaison officer with the Minneapolis Police and a supportive sister is able to balance family life, bills and work. She is called into meet with Susan and Richard Darden after their newborn is abducted from their affluent home, the babysitter hospitalized after the attack. Afton has never been involved in a case as emotional as this before and as she works closely with Detective Max Montgomery, she begins to see some things that don’t add up and thinks that this kidnapping may not be an isolated case. Montgomery trusts Afton’s instincts, as does his boss, and they allow her a little more leeway with her involvement. Afton knows she and Montgomery must look at all the possibilities, but when things aren’t adding up, they know they need to look at the crime in a different light, especially after two more, seemingly unrelated deaths occur, but even though she is not a trained investigator, Afton knows there is no such thing as coincidence and with the tenacity of a dog with a bone continues with her gut instinct until it leads her to the truth, and a situation that puts her, and a newborn baby, in mortal danger. Schmitt, who writes two longtime cozy series under the name Laura Childs, ratchets up the suspense in this grittier novel without sacrificing any of her trademark strong characterization and twisting turning plots.