Tuesday, February 20, 2018

March Comes in Like a Lion...

With plenty of new books to read! Where will you start?

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

Flight attendant Cassie Bowden is a blackout drunk and often finds herself in strange beds, though not always alone.  After a flight from JFK to Dubai, she finds herself not only in the bed of a stranger, but in the bed of a dead stranger, one who, judging from the blood in the bed, was murdered.  Rather than calling authorities or even hotel security, Cassie slips out of the hotel, attempting to erase all evidence of the night of drinking and sex that she and Alex Sokolov shared.  When Sokolov’s body is discovered, Cassie and her colleagues are questioned, as Sokolov was a first class passenger on the flight to Dubai.  Back in Manhattan, Cassie is still certain no one will be able to tie her to the dead man, other than serving him drinks, but after a series of bad choices, lying to the FBI, her attorney, and her family, she decides to come clean and reveals she was the woman in the hotel room with Sokolov, but that there was another woman who arrived sometime in the evening with another bottle of vodka.  Even with all of Cassie’s flaws, Bohjalian remains neutral and doesn’t judge her or try to make readers feel sorry for her and her bad choices: she just is what she is, yet readers will find themselves rooting for Cassie not to succumb to temptations and to do the right thing.  Told in alternating chapters between Cassie and Elena, the hit woman with the vodka, readers will race to the end of this book, though it is obvious where it is going.

Close to Home by Cara Hunter
One evening Sharon and Barry Mason hold a summer evening party in the backyard of the Oxford home on a canal complete with costumes for the children and fireworks.  The son Leo and their eight-year-old daughter Daisy, dressed as her name, appear to be having a wonderful time until the party ends and Sharon and Barry realize that Daisy has vanished.  As DI Fawley and DC Everett begin searching for Daisy, they learn that no one can say for certain whether or not Daisy was actually at the party or if the girls switched costumes.  As the police begin to ask questions of the neighbors, the teachers at Daisy’s school, and her friends and classmates, they learn that there was much more to each member of Daisy’s family life than meets the eye: everyone, including Daisy herself, has secrets and is living a life of deceit.  Fawley has his own family troubles and finds them at the forefront of his mind as he dissects the family’s and the little girl’s lives.  The further the police delve into the secrets, the more Barry looks suspicious, the more complicate Sharon looks, and the more disturbed and detached Leo becomes.  As the tangled knots of the Mason’s lives are exposed, more people speculate on social media, and accusations begin building to a startling conclusion that few will see coming. 

Exhibit Alexandra by Natasha Bell
In this highly addictive debut novel, Alexandra Southwood does not return home one evening after work, leaving her husband Marc and her two young girls desperate to find her.  Alexandra is being held, against her will, in a small room, and through news clips of Marc’s public appeals she has an almost sentient knowledge of what Marc is going through.  After Alexandra’s blood and clothing is found near the river, the police turn their missing person investigation into a murder investigation.  Working through his grief, Marc begins to shift through Alexandra’s life and uncovers a much different woman than he thought he had married.  This is an originally plotted thriller that gives readers a unique look into a descent into madness, and then the horror we feel when we realize what we thought we knew to be true is not, and that with the slightest shifting of the lens, our narratives change in an instant.   Highly recommended. 

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
In the days after Christmas, radio show host Amber Reynolds is lying in a coma in a hospital outside of London.  She is aware of her circumstances, but is unable to show any signs of life.  As she lies in the bed, hearing the visitors who come in and out of her room, trying to piece together what happened to her and why she is here.  The police suspect her husband Paul; Amber suspects Paul has fallen in love with her sister Claire.  As the days go by, Amber remembers the weeks leading up to her accident, the trouble at work, the concerns about Paul’s fidelity; these memories intermingle with diary entries from Amber’s childhood, beginning when she was eleven, entries that reveal a more than an unhappy childhood and usual angst riddled teenage years, something much more sinister.  Plot twists come fast and furious at the end, some make sense, some are curious, tenuous connections, but overall, this tightly written plot full of secrets and suspense will keep many readers up late into the night to learn Amber’s secrets, and about what she is lying, and if she ever tells a truth.

The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty
As the crime reporter for Savannah’s Daily News Harper McClain is glued to her police scanner---most of the time---hoping for something that will put her name on the front page.  Over the years, she has developed a very good relationship with the cops and a close, personal relationship with Lieutenant Robert Smith: ever since he arrived at the scene of her mother’s, still unsolved, murder, fifteen years ago.  When, Harper covers the murder of a woman in a good neighborhood, she realizes the scene is eerily like that of the scene in the kitchen where Harper found her mother; Harper become certain that the same person committed both crimes and that the person is a cop.  Not knowing where to turn, Harper begins her own investigation, putting her job and relationships on the line, not caring about where the path leads her, as long as it is to the truth.  Harper is an outstanding character: she is nervy, has some self-doubt, and puts truth and honor above all else, including her own safety.  She often finds herself in a minefield, but manages to work her way out, sometimes worse for the wear, but always wiser.  The steamy, gothic-esque Savannah setting only adds to the atmosphere.  Fans of Hank Ryan’s Jane Ryland and Jake Brogan series will devour this debut in one sitting. 

The Girlfriend by Sarah J. Naughton
Mary Magdalene, Mags, left Scotland at the age of sixteen; after university in London, she got a law degree from Columbia and went to Las Vegas to start her career.  Over two decades later, she finds herself back on her way to London where her brother Abe lies in a coma after a fall from the staircase in his apartment building.  When Mags arrives, she finds Abe’s girlfriend Jody Currie sitting at his bedside.  Mags did not know of Jody, but she and Abe were not terribly close so she is not surprised.  Mags moves into Abe’s apartment which is on the same floor as Jody’s and the more she gets to know Jody, the more suspicious of her she becomes; Jody was the only witness to Abe’s accident, or so Mags thinks, but there is definitely more to the story than Jody is telling.  In the shadows is another tenant, Mira, who has her own story to tell about Abe’s accident and somewhere therein lies the truth.  The more Mags starts to dig into Abe’s life, the more she realizes how little she knew about her brother, but in one final act of loyalty is willing to risk all to bring a killer to justice.  If a lie is told often enough, does it become the truth? This terrifying trip through Abe’s life leads his sister Mags to places she never thought she would go.  Readers will not be able to look away from this fast-paced twisty tale of love and revenge. 

The Other Mother by Carol Goodman
Daphne Marist met Laurel Hobbes at a new mother’s group and seemed to have a lot in common, including newborn daughters named Chloe; so much in common that when Daphne feels her life is in danger from her husband, she takes Chloe, Laurel’s identity, and becomes an archivist for Schuyler Bennett, a semi-reclusive author who lives in the Catskills next to a mental institution.   As Daphne’s time with Schuyler unfolds, Daphne beings to wonder how bad is her postpartum depression? Is her husband really trying to kill her, and is she mentally unstable as Laurel’s husband told Daphne Laurel was, or are others trying to control her to their end.  When Daphne is committed to the mental institution, the kaleidoscope shifts and the scene changes, making Daphne more reliable than she originally appeared, casting doubt on others’ stories and motives.  This gothic setting and atmosphere is perfect for all the secretive characters and the twisty, turning plot that leads readers uncertain where they will end up next.

If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin
Single mother Jackie Reed is doing the best she can to raise her two teenaged boys, Wade and Connor in the quiet Hudson Valley town of Havenkill.  One night changes everything for everyone and brings to light the secrets a small town had thought were hidden forever.  Aimeee En, a has-been pop music icon, claims she was the victim of a carjacking that turned deadly when the carjacker ran down Liam Miller.  As the investigation unfolds, eyes turn to the angry outcast Wade Reed who insists he’s innocent, but to Pearl Maze, the investigating officer, and to his mother, knows a lot more than he is willing to reveal.  Told from multiple points of view, stories unfold, family secrets are revealed, lives are torn apart, only to be slowly repaired and put back together through understanding and forgiveness.