Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown
Billie has been missing for almost a year after leaving on a solo hike and is about to be declared legally dead so her husband Jonathan, and he hopes in turn, teenage daughter Olive can get on with their lives. Olive is having sightings of her mother and is certain Billie is still alive and trying to let Olive know. As Jonathan begins to clear out the detritus of not only a marriage but of a life as well, he begins to uncover things about his wife that suggest she kept many secrets from her family. While Jonathan and Olive struggle with whether or not Billie is dead or has just disappeared and if she did, why did she disappear, they must rearrange themselves for their lives without Billie. This multi-layered story of a woman’s life and her leaving of that life force Jonathan to take a hard look at his marriage and the woman he married and Olive to consider her vibrant, nature-loving mother in a different light and for father and daughter to find their ways once again, together as a family and separately. Many different themes will elicit discussion among book groups.
The Breakdown by BA Paris
Driving home one stormy night, Cass takes a short cut through the woods near her house and happens upon a woman in a car; the woman doesn’t appear to be in distress and the rain is coming down in torrents so Cass continues on her way home. The next day she learns that the woman was murdered a short time after Cass drove on and then she realizes the woman, Jane, is the woman Cass just met and had lunch with not long before; Cass becomes wracked with guilt that she did not stop. Slowly, Cass begins to forget things and conversations and becomes increasingly afraid she is succumbing to the same fate her mother did: early onset dementia. But in the back of her mind, Cass thinks there is more to her “forgetfulness” it than that as she begins to receive silent calls daily and beings to wonder if someone is trying to make her mad or at least convince her she is going mad. Little by little Cass begins to put the pieces together to reveal a picture more terrifying than she imagined. High tension and an urgency to the narrative keeps pages turning to the shocking conclusion in this second novel from the author of Behind Closed Doors.
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
Isa left Salten, a boarding school located in a gothic setting on the English Channel, over fifteen years ago, married and has a new baby. When she gets a three-word text, “I need you” from her classmate Kate she knows that two other women from school, Fatima and Thea, have received the same text and the day has come to answer for the secrets and lies they kept and told while at school. A bone has been found along the shore in an area near Salten known as the Reach and these four women think they know to whom it belonged. Joining Kate, who has stayed in the artist studio in which she grew up with her father, the women revisit their school years, including the Lying Game in which players garnered points for various lies and deceptions, the biggest rule being never lie to each other: but one of them did and it has come back to haunt them. Even as their shared past is revealed, Isa realizes that not everything is as it seems and if the focus is shifted just a bit, things take on new meanings and that maybe all lies contain a truth and maybe truth is what we tell ourselves and come to believe over time. Creepy and gothic, this addictive novel is as gripping as it is thoughtful.