You’ll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron
Forty years ago, four-year-old Janey Woodham was playing with her sister Lissie in their front yard and disappeared when Lissie’s attention was distracted by a puppy. Also gone was the custom doll Janey’s mother made for the girl using Janey’s own hair. Every year on the anniversary of Janey’s disappearance, Miss Sorrel, their mother, places an ad in the local paper offering a reward for the return of Janey’s doll, hoping that it will lead to finding Janey or at least learning what happened to her. Lissie returned to live with Miss Sorrell many years ago, bringing along her now college age daughter, constantly haunted by her inattentiveness that day. Now, a young woman has brought a doll that Miss Sorrell is certain is Janey’s but before Miss Sorrel can verify the doll, the young woman disappears, Miss Sorrell and Lissie are seriously injured in a home accident and most of Miss Sorrell’s prized doll collection is stolen. Certain that they are close to the truth of what happened to Janey, Lissie tumbles down a rabbit hole looking for information leading to the answers of her sister’s whereabouts, but finds much more than she bargained for, something far sinister and life altering than she ever imagined.
Fateful Mornings by Tom Bouman
Spring has finally arrived in Wild Thyme, Pennsylvania but there is no rest for Officer Henry Farrell. Kevin O’Keeffe comes to Henry hoping Henry can help find Kevin’s girlfriend Penny who has disappeared. Kevin admits to other crimes but swears he didn’t harm Penny. Henry’s search takes him into New York State and he finds himself following a trail of crimes, some petty, some not so petty, and heroin, all of which lead back to, or near to, Kevin. Henry is an exceptionally nuanced, flawed, and surprising character with a passion for traditional fiddle music and another man’s wife. The prose that describes the setting is clean and crisp making this part of the Rust Belt seem like it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. There is no urgency to the narrative, but rather a slow and steady pace that leads to many unexpected “huh” and “aha” moments as all the story threads are neatly tied up. An exceptional sequel for this Edgar award winner.
The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder
Sister and brother Alice and Paul are loathe to attend their half-sister Eloise’s over-the-top, slightly pretentious wedding in London; Alice, who has made living productively on Klonopin an art, is dating her married boss, and still grieves a miscarriage almost a decade later, insists that she and Paul must attend the wedding. Paul, a counselor at a clinic where questionable practices (such as having a germ-o-phobe stand inside a trash pail to help overcome her anxiety), is increasingly unhappy with his boyfriend who has been lobbying Paul to invite a third man into their bedroom, flatly refuses to attend the wedding: he hates Eloise, and hasn’t spoken to his mother Donna since she erased all traces of Paul and Alice’s father after his death two years ago. Alice prevails and the pair finds themselves on the other side of the Atlantic, dysfunctional as ever. Yet something happens to each of them while they are there: Paul speaks up and stands up for himself with his boyfriend and Alice takes a long hard look at where her life has been and what new options she may have. Donna, still in love with the idea of her first husband, Eloise’s father, is mostly impervious to the angst in her younger children’s lives. This delightful, raucous, bordering on raunchy sometimes, novel is like a guilty pleasure as readers imagine, perhaps even recall, their own dramas and “the people we hate” at their own weddings. A tender ending is a reminder that above all, hope and love continue to abide.
The Child by Fiona Barton
When the skeleton of a baby is found at a London construction site, three women, whose lives would have likely never otherwise crossed, are brought together as each, for her own reasons, tries to determine who the child is with irrevocable results for each. Kate is a print journalist who watches her colleagues lose their jobs as online media takes over and wonders when it will happen to her; Kate sees a snippet about the baby and becomes convinced finding out who the child is could be the story of a lifetime. Emma is happily married but with a secret in her past, sees the same bit and knows who the baby is because she buried a baby in that spot years ago. Angela has been mourning her daughter who was kidnapped from the hospital the day she was born and is certain the baby is hers; a DNA test proves that it is, but how can it be as the infant is wrapped in a newspaper dated in the 1980’s and Alice was born in the 1970’s. As inconsistencies and contradictions begin to pile up, Kate, Emma, and Angela dig further into the past and find life changing, but heart breaking, answers.
He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly
Laura and Kit met in university and have been chasing eclipses together ever since. During one fateful trip to Cornwall, Laura stumbles on a young woman who, in Laura’s opinion, is being raped. While Laura stays to help Beth, Kit chases her attacker, Jamie, who is captured but maintains the sex, while rough looking, was consensual. Laura and Beth reconnect after the trial and Beth insinuates herself into Kit and Laura’s life. When things get out of hand, Laura and Kit vanish from Beth’s view, removing every trace of themselves from the world as they are able, marry, and live under assumed names. Now pregnant with twins, Laura’s anxiety levels build as Kit prepares to head north of Scotland to the Faroe Islands to see a total eclipse, setting in motion a chain of events that will not only change everything for everyone but will change everyone’s perspective of the events that have occurred. Cleverly framed against the phases of an eclipse, this story will keep readers guessing until the very end and will provide much for lively book group discussions.
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
Thirty-year old Lydia lives a quiet life, one she curated for herself, working as a bookseller, spending her days among the books she loves, co-workers who are as accepting as they are offbeat, and the BookFrogs, regulars at the bookstore who have found a niche of their own at Bright Ideas. Lydia is horrified when one of the youngest BookFrogs, Joey Molina, hangs himself on the upper level of the store. Lydia then finds herself heir to his few possessions and books, remainders and reminders of Joey’s life. Lydia is very disturbed as she flips through the page of Joey’s books and sees that they have been defaced, but in a way meant to leave Lydia a message. As Joey’s clues reveal a strange and disturbing tail, Lydia finds herself reliving the terror in her younger self when she was the sole survivor of the Hammerman who brutally murdered her friend Carole and Carole’s parents while Lydia hid under the sink. As players from this time begin to reappear in Lydia’s life: the detective who never solved the case, her eccentric and anti-social father, her childhood friend Raj, Lydia begins to see a different picture of what occurred that night and how Joey is connected to it. This riveting debut is as clever as it is diabolical and will appeal to readers to enjoy a good puzzle along with interesting characters, and a strong plot.