Saturday, March 30, 2019

April Showers

...not only bring May flowers, but they also give you plenty of time to laze inside and read a good book!

Like Lions by Brian Panowich
In the follow up to the debut Bull Mountain, Sheriff Clayton Burroughs is struggling with the aftermath of not only taking down his brothers’ illegal mountain enterprises, but killing them as well.  As Burroughs deals with the guilt o this, he is also trying to be a good husband and a new father at almost forty years old.  Wanting nothing to do with the empire his brother built, he finds himself drawn back in as another family wants to take over the operations and use Bull Mountain as a safe and protected thoroughfare for their drug trade.  Dangerous, violent, and heart-breaking all at once, readers may suspect what is coming, but the final sentence of the book offers big impact, shifting the kaleidoscope, making all the difference

They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall

This attempted homage to Agatha’s Christie’s And Then There Were None falls a little short, but  provides some frightening moments, and enough tension for a quick light read.  Miriam Macy has fallen far: her husband has left her and is remarried to their daughter’s dance teacher; she has lost her job, and has been involved in some incidents that cause the police to call her on a regular basis.  Miriam is not the least bit surprised when the forty-five year old receives an e-mail to participate in a reality television show: she and six other people, a promiscuous widow, an ex-policeman, an obnoxious attorney, a chef with a drug problem, a financial advisor, and a nurse with no bedside manner, receive invitations to fly to Mexico, from where they will be transported to a remote island to vie for a grand prize.  Miriam is glad to be away from her daily woes, her arguments with her husband and his new wife, and the text her seventeen-year-old daughter sent her: I hate you.  Once on the island, though, there seems to be no reality show, the only thing the group has in common is they’ve all used attorney Phillip Omeke.  As each of her fellow “contestants” begin to die, Miriam stops thinking about herself, winning the prize, and survival.  A backstory that is slowly revealed provides some context and a bit of interest to this otherwise lackluster thriller, but doesn’t make Miriam any more likable as a character.

Cape May by Chip Cheek
In September 1957, newlyweds Henry and Effie come to Cape May from Georgia for their honeymoon.  Cape May is not how Effie remembers it from her summers as a child and the pair plan to leave early until they meet Clara and her friends.  This sophisticated, sensual group of people unleashes feelings in both Effie and Henry that they never could have imagined.  What happens in during the following week changes Effie, Henry, and the course of their marriage forever, in this novel that explores what love is: what it means to be loved, to love, as well as faithfulness and fidelity, and innocence lost. Smart and sexy, with sophisticated, eloquent prose; plenty for book groups to discuss.

Fifty Things That Aren’t My Fault by Cathy Guisewite

For thirty-four years, the award winning comic strip “Cathy” entertained readers with the ups and downs, perils, joys and heartbreaks of single womanhood.  In this collection of essays of varying lengths, Guisewite turns her pen to words and to her life as she talks about the decision to adopt her daughter as a single mother, her brief marriage, and what it’s like to age somewhat less than gracefully, facing indignities such as your feet growing a full size seemingly overnight, facing a closet full of clothes in which nothing fits, and trying on clothes in a dressing room, a tiny, young, attractive woman standing watch.  She also addresses the struggles of being part of the sandwich generation as she tries to help her aging parents who  don’t want nor think they need her help.  In the vein of Nora Ephron or Erma Bombeck, but with a voice all her own, this collection will become beloved to longtime fans of “Cathy”.

The Editor by Steven Rowley
When James Smale’s first novel is purchased by Doubleday, he is over the moon; when the young gay fifty thingswriter realizes his editor is to be none other than Jackie O. he cannot contain himself.  Growing up, James’s mother adored the Kennedy’s, though James had a difficult relationship with both his parents.  This becomes apparently obvious to Mrs. Onassis as she reads James’s novel and all but sends him home to reconcile with his mother and, with a little luck, find a new ending to his novel.  Once home, James uncovers family secrets that will not only rewrite the ending to his novel, but to his entire life.  Rowley mines the depths of family relationships, especially mothers and sons, and uses Jackie O. as a touchstone for James as he works his way through his new reality.  A fun portrayal of the former first lady turned editor caps off what could be a maudlin story and keeps it from becoming bogged down in family drama.

Under the Table by Stephanie Evanovich
Zoey Sullivan has left Ohio and her unhappy marriage to start over in Manhattan living with her little sister while she gets her catering business started.  A job catering a dinner party for wealthy computer nerd from St. Croix, Tristan Malloy will help her bottom line and open up new opportunities, Zoe hopes.  What she doesn’t expect is to fall into such an easy friendship with Tristan who is good looking, but dorky and could use some help with his social graces as well.   Zoey offers to give him a makeover, not realizing that as he is turning into the new man about town, she is falling hard for him.  This light, romantic, reverse Pygmalion story is perfect fare for the start of spring.

The Better Sister by Alafair Burke
Chloe Taylor seems to have it all: a handsome husband who is a partner in a prestigious Manhattan law firm, a step-son who seems to have it together, and a career at a print magazine that most women would kill for in the current digital age.  Chloe has an interesting backstory, however: she is the younger sister of her husband Adam’s ex-wife Nicky, who is the mother of Chloe’s step-son Ethan.  Chloe and Nicky have been estranged for over fourteen years, but the murder of Adam at the couple’s East Hampton beach brings Nicky, who is still Ethan’s legal parent, to Manhattan and back in the forefront of Chloe’s life.  Nicky has gotten her life together in the past decade, but is still a bit of a flake, in Chloe’s opinion, but when Ethan is arrested for the murder of his father, Nicky springs into action as only a mother can, and has a legal right to do so, in many cases.  With their love and concern for Ethan as their common ground, the two sisters find their way back to each other, but as they do, secrets hidden for many years begin to emerge, shifting the kaleidoscope, revealing an entirely different picture.  Well written, though with only one outcome, fans Lisa Scottoline, and of family dramas and legal battles will enjoy this standalone novel. 

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
Miracle Creek, Virginia has almost nothing going for it.  Korean immigrants Pak and Young Yoo have immigrated there from Seoul with their daughter Mary and operated a hyperbaric oxygen chamber that offers therapeutic relief from conditions ranging from infertility to autism.  A fire in one of the oxygen tanks causes a fatal explosion killing on of the patient’s mothers and one of the young boys, Henry, who was being treated for autism.  One year later, Henry’s mother is on trial for the fire and seems resigned to the fact that she will be convicted, and at times reveals herself to be relieved that her son has died. As the trial unfolds, the patients who were present that evening and the Yoos begin to tell their stories to each other and to the court creating a much different picture of what occurred that evening.  Kim’s debut is rich in characterization and complex plot, but she deftly weaves all loose ends together, no matter how far-fetched or coincidental incidents seem at the time, into such a complex picture, expressing the malleability of the truth, what it means to be a parent, especially a mother, and what it means to be a stranger in a strange land, even when it is the land of your birth.

The Light Years by Chris Rush
Growing up in a privileged Catholic family in New Jersey with an alcoholic father and a mother who is rather vague where her seven children were concerned, artist, designer Chris was in the middle and spent much of his pre-teen years trying to figure out where he fit in.  He knew he was not like his other brothers, his sixteen-year-old sister Donna became a kindred spirit, introducing him to a world of drugs and the freer, alternative lifestyle of the late sixties. Chris is sent to an all-boys Catholic boarding school after he hears his father say he might be “queer” and is bullied, and then expelled.  His next “art” boarding school suits him better, but again, it is not for him.  He travels across the United States to be with Donna in Tucson, but ends up having to hitchhike and almost ends up dead.  Chris focuses on his pre-teen and teenage years in this honest, raw memoir, which is sometimes very uncomfortable as he bounces from school to school, from family to sister, in search of his true self, and a place to call home and in which he can be himself and comfortable as himself. 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Just Jennifer

American Pop by Snowden Wright
This sweeping Southern epic follows the story of three generations of the Mississippi Forster family, founders of the Panola Cola (Panola) company.  Patriarch Houghton, was trained as a pharmacist, has never shared the exact recipe with his four children, nor does he seem particularly interested in turning the company over to any of them: his eldest son Montgomery, pursues a political career after serving in World War I, but is haunted by the loss of of his lover Nicholas who was killed in the war; his youngest, twins Lance and Ramsey, are living the high life off the family fortune; Harold, the second son lives much apart from the family, even starting a forlorn museum, an homage to the company.  Houghton’s grandchildren do prove to be more suitable heirs for the business, though Monty’s daughter, Imogene, wheelchair ridden due to Polio and her brother Nicholas who any affinity for the company, though Imogene is disinherited for unknown reasons.  The family’s fortune ebbs and flows through the years, the company waivers in stability after some poor business decisions, but the family, as desperate as they are, come together in ways that create a tapestry of a Southern dynasty that will feel both familiar and refreshing to readers.

Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs
Widowed photographer Camille Adams has become very cautious since her husband’s death and ruins a canister of 40-year-old film she has been hired by history professor Finn Finnemore to develop when she gets a phone call from the ER that her 14-year-old daughter was injured during her surf rescue class, a class Camille never gave Julie permission to take part in.  At first Finn is furious the film is ruined as it might explain Finn’s father’s disappearance in Cambodia, but he is so taken with the young mother that he puts his anger aside.  Camille is not interested in pursuing a relationship but finds herself in France at the same time as Finn when her father Henry receives a trunk of things from France that came from his family home.  As Camille explores the mystery of her grandparents, her grandmother died in labor, her grandfather executed as a Nazi sympathizer, Finn helps her uncover the historical significance to what she finds as he slowly works his way into her heart, opening her up to the possibilities of love and a life without her husband.  Flashbacks to World War II France and Henry’s mother add depth to this romance and show what happened as Finn and Camille are finding the clues in present day. 

Friday, March 8, 2019

In Like a Lion...Out Like a Lion

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

This stand-alone by the award winning author of the Ruth Galloway series is a tribute to Gothic literature and doesn’t miss any tropes along the way.  Clare Cassidy is a secondary school English teacher in West Sussex, and a single mom to teenaged Georgie.  She is writing a biography of writer R.M. Holland who once lived in the building were her school Talgarth High, is currently housed.  The school is as gothic a setting as one could hope for and it is said that Holland’s wife fell down the stairs to her death and still haunts the schools, and that when her ghost appears, a death will follow.  No one has claimed to see the ghost, but then Clare’s colleague and close friend is murdered, a note quoting Holland’s most famous short story “The Stranger” left near the body.  As police investigate, they are very interested in Clare, especially when Clare shows them that she has just found a line in her diary that she did not write, written in the same hand as the note near the body.  The story, told from three points of view: Clare’s, her daughter Georgie’s, and the Sikh policewoman investigating the case, unravels slowly, the haunted house, the specter of Halloween, and Gothic literature as an inspiration for a murder, until a rather surprising conclusion, and an almost light-hearted epilogue.  

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner
In 1943, German-American Elise Sontag’s father is arrested as a threat to America even though he and his wife have been in America almost two decades.  Eventually, he and his family are reunited and relocated to Crystal City, an internment camp in Texas.  There, 14-year-old Elise meets Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teenager whose family has also been relocated.  The girls promise each other they will live in Manhattan after the war, but after the Sontags are repatriated to Germany and the Inoues to Japan, the girls lose touch.  Now in her eighty’s, Elisa, who married and returned to the US, seeks out Mariko who she learns is dying in California.  Elise decides to make one last trip to see her dear friend and learn about her life since the two parted nearly seventy years ago.  Meissner’s keen attention to historical details allows for a feeling of immediacy during the later years of World War II, including the hatreds and prejudice that lingered long afterwards.  Told almost exclusively from Elise’s point of view, a compelling story to be sure, more of Mariko’s struggles would have rounded out this lovely story of friendship lost and found even more.  A pick for March.

The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets
Marian Engstrom joins a conservation group in Alberta tracking caribou, a job she loves: working outdoors in the wilderness with dogs.  She becomes involved with Tate, one of the team leaders and is devastated when she learns of his death, but also a bit uneasy as during their relationship there were things Tate said that didn’t quite add up to Marian, including his claim that he found the body of one of the Stillwater Creek victims.  Marian reaches out to Nick Shepard, the profiler who worked on the cases and all too soon she is drawn into the investigation, all the while feeling someone is watching her.  The stark detailed beauty of the wilderness mirrors the detachment of many of the characters who often bond better with the animals than each other.  A pick for March.

Call Me Evie by J. P. Pomare
Seventeen-year-old Kate Bennet doesn’t’ know why she is locked in a New Zealand beach cabin far from her home in Melbourne; she doesn’t know the man who is keeping her, no why he says he is her uncle Jim, and why he calls her Evie.  She just knows she did something very wrong in Melbourne and that he says he is hiding her to project her.  As snippets of her memory return, she wonders if she can really trust Jim and if he is really hiding her or holding her hostage.  Kate becomes more desperate as she tries to work out what she did, why she is here, and who she can trust.  This addictive psychological suspense hits all the right notes, and is put together well save for a final nudge that is needed to work up to the big reveal.

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
Millicent and her husband have found a way to keep their marriage alive and interesting after fifteen years: they murder young women.  One of them changes the rules and suspicion falls on a possible serial killer from the past, the investigation into several unsolved murders of young women rackets up, revealing more secrets about the couple than either thought they knew.  Can this marriage be saved?  This twisted dark novel will have readers guessing until the very end.   The Number One pick for March.

This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism by Ashton Applewhite
Blogger and TED speaker Applewhite quietly, but firmly, rails against ageism, in this entertaining and informative book, a collective of her wisdom and beliefs.  Overall, people are living longer, working longer, playing longer, and want to remain independent as long as possible.  She addresses stereotypes,  and affirms that it’s okay to age and grow old, offering broad advice on how to age gracefully, and well. 

The Good Detective by John McMahon
Detective P.T. Marsh was going far in the police department in Mason Falls, Georgia before a car accident killed his wife and young son the year before.  No he drinks heavily and doesn’t always make good choices.  Agreeing to rough up the abusive boyfriend of a stripper becomes one of those bad choices when the man, with Neo-Nazi tattoos, is found dead the next morning, P.T.’s fingerprints all over the scene.  The discovery of a fifteen-year old black teenager, partially burned with a rope around his neck, in a burned out field sends P.T. and his partner Remy off on a trail of hate that may lead back to the dead man, but the solution seems too pat to P.T. and he begins to did further into things, finding ties to prominent local business men and politicians, and stretching back as far as the Civil War.  A good sense of place, a well-plotted investigation, and a flawed main character make his debut one to watch.

In the Blink of an Eye by Jesse Blackadder
Beginning to settle in after moving from Tasmania to mainland Australia, the unthinkable happens to the Brennan family and threatens to tear them apart.  One morning, Finn sets to his work as an artist in his studio in the backyard, teenage son Jarrah heads off to school, while Finn’s wife Bridget gets ready to leave for her job as a marine biologist, a routine that is a little different than usual.  Bridget takes her eyes off of their two-year-old son Toby for a few minutes and he vanishes; he is found floating in the pool, drowned.  What follows, is the unfolding of each family member’s roll in Toby’s life and death, their guilt, and their grief.  The narrative is interestingly and effectively told from the viewpoints of each family member: Finn’s in the third person, giving the most distance from the story; Jarrah’s in the first person, giving a sense of loss and immediacy, and Bridget’s as if she is musing over the events, almost in a trance-like state.  With the police involved and an arrest made, suspicions, anger, and guilt build even more, providing an additional layer of tension to this heart-breaking plot, beautifully rendered.

The Gardener of Eden by David Downie
James Adams, recently widowed, retired judge, returns to the now dying timber town of Carverville, California, a town he left almost forty-years ago, both he and the town a little worse for the wear.  He finds himself helping the chatting owner of Eden Seaside Resort Cottages, Beverley, doing gardening and yardwork with Taz, a teenager whose brilliance and talents may go unused unless he is able to get out of the small town.  When the two make a terrible discovery, a feral hog trap, James knows they have unleashed a past he hoped not to face again, but one he must, all the same, in his hometown which has become a dystopian police state.  Literate, with many Sherlockian references, and heavy handed in places, this novel, an homage to the beauty of the rural wilderness of the Pacific Northwest.   

Murder Once Removed by S. C. Perkins
Austin, Texas genealogist Lucy Lancaster has been hired by billionaire Gus Halloran to do his family tree; Gus has just announced that Texas senator Caleb Applewhite murdered Seth Halloran…in 1849.  Lucy isn’t so sure: she has a photo that shows another man may be guilty.  As Lucy digs into the Halloran family history she stirs up a lot of trouble, brings in the FBI, and gets involved in a modern day murder in this debut mystery that won the 2017 Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery contest.  Armchair sleuths and amateur genealogists should be prepared to be charmed.

Too Much is Not Enough by Andrew Rannells
This deceptively light and breezy memoir chronicles Andrew Rannells’s (The Book of Mormon) journey to New York City from Omaha.  Andrew always loved live stage, and knew he was gay (though he didn’t come out to his family until three days before he left for Marymount College in Manhattan).  In 1997 he finally has his chance to realize his dreams: but arriving in New York, things are a little different than he expects, but he is anxious to try everything, and try most things he does.  He sets his sights on Broadway, and never waivers until he finds himself standing among the cast of Hairspray ready to make his debut.  Rannells is painfully honest, never forgets his family or where he came from, and driven to succeed in this honest, touching, humorous look at one man achieving his dreams and what he went through to do so.

The Lost Night by Andrea Bartz
Lindsey is living and working as a fact checker for a magazine in New York City and feels as if she has her life together.  Gone are her hipster days of 2009, hanging with friends in Calhoun Lofts in pre-gentrified Bushwick, Brooklyn, but she’s okay with that and has tried to put that behind her.  When her friend Sarah reaches out to her, the two discuss the evening in August 2009 when their friend Edie committed suicide.  The two women have different recollections of the events of that night and Lindsey begins to question whether or not Edie killed herself or if she was murdered.  Lindsey, who has had drunken blackouts, some ending with violence, more than once, reaches out to the other friends she Sarah, and Edie hung out with, reconstructs e-mails, and finds the files on her video camera, each step bringing her closer to the truth of what happened that night, and the truth may be closer to her than she can imagine.  Tightly plotted with gritty writing at times, this debut thriller captures the atmosphere of young adults ready to take on the world.  

Baby of the Family by Maura Roosevelt
When the patriarch of the Whitby family dies, he leaves behind an empire including hotels, houses in several cities. Four times married, Roger has nine children, including the son of his fourth wife he adopted, the son to whom he leaves his entire fortune: except no one can find Nick.  Nick is running underground after having participated in an act of terrorism against a corporation in Maine, his co-participants having been arrested.  Half-sisters Shelley and Brooke are concerned that they will lose the Roger owned homes they are living in as each deals with her own set of problems:  Shelley has dropped out of college, her mother is in and out of mental hospitals, and is working as an assistant to a blind author, a situation that becomes uncomfortable on several levels.  Brooke, an emergency room nurse in Boston, has recently become pregnant by her fiancĂ©, but would rather be with her girlfriend Allie.  These three half-and step-siblings form an uneasy alliance as they sort out their lives in this assured debut from the from the great-granddaughter of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt
American painter Zoe Adams comes to the McBride house on a remote Scottish Island, seeking refuge, and perhaps forgiveness.  There is a pall of unrest over the house, and while the locals are friendly enough, Zoe experiences a good deal of unease and even a ghost or two.  A local historian shares the tragedies that surround the house with Zoe, heightening her alertness.  This sexy, suspenseful, gothic thriller hits all the right notes with atmosphere.

Redemption Point by Candice Fox
Former detective Ted Conkaffey was wrongly accused of abducting a raping young Claire Bingley; though he was released from prison and not convicted, his life has never been the same: he is hiding out on the edge of a swamp in Australia, away from his wife and young daughter, at the mercy of vigilantes who still think he’s guilty, and now the target of Claire’s father who still blames Ted for his daughter’s attack.  Ted has joined forces with Amanda Pharrell, an unusual private detective with her own demons and idiosyncrasies, after doing time for murder (told in Crimson Lake) to try and find the real attacker.  Hired by the father of one of two bartenders who was murdered at closing at the nearby Barking Frog Inn, the pair doesn’t exactly join forces with Detective Inspector Pip Sweeney, the lead detective on the case, though since it’s her first murder investigation, Amanda feels Pip can use a little help with her case and dives right in.  Though the parallel investigations never cross, both are well laid out with surprises and twists and turns, and though there may never be total redemption for Ted nor Amanda, each will come away with a stronger sense that life may be more than it has been for each.

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
Hen and her husband Lloyd are settling nicely into a suburb of Boston: Hen, an illustrator, has found a studio nearby from which she can work and sell her art, and can live a peaceful and stable life, her bipolar disorder under control.  Until the night she and Lloyd have dinner at the neighbor’s house: Hen spots a fencing trophy in the office of the husband, Matthew.  She recognizes the trophy as belonging to a young man who was killed nearly two years ago, a murder that remains unsolved, but one that has been an obsession of Hen’s since.  When Hen realizes that Matthew teaches at the school Dustin Miller attended, her suspicions grown and becomes more obsessed and begins to stalk Matthew.  When he learns she has been stalking him, she wonders if she’ll live to tell police what she suspects.  A tightly written novel where madness and madness meet with no way out for anyone.

House on Fire by Bonnie Kistler
This debut by a former trial lawyer hits all the right notes for fans of suspenseful family dramas, with moral questions that have no good answers.  Leigh Huyett, a divorce attorney, and her second husband Pete Conley have successfully blended their families, Leigh’s twin sons and her 14-year-old daughter Chrissy with Pete’s son Kip, a high school senior.  On the weekend of the couple’s anniversary, they leave Pete and Chrissy home alone, and receive news every family dreads: there was a car accident, Kip was arrested for drunk driving, but both children seem relatively unharmed.  Twelve hours later, Chrissy is dead, Kip is arrested for vehicular man slaughter, and the family is thrown into emotional turmoil.  Kip always had an edge about him, but was a star student and athlete, looking forward to a bright future, beginning with college in a few months.  Even with the loss of her daughter, Leigh throws her full support behind Kip, until Kip changes his story saying Chrissy was driving.  Leigh now feels her loyalties divided, the strain is on their marriage, but as she begins to work some new cases of her own, she is able to see things in a different light, and begins to wonder if Kip isn’t telling the truth.  This tightly plotted drama has many twists and turns, moral questions, and unanswered questions, is recommended for book groups, and fans of authors such as Jodi Picoult.

Run Away by Harlan Coben

Simon Greene’s daughter is a drug addict who has run away and doesn’t want to be found.  Her father, however, wants her found: when he sees her playing guitar in Strawberry Fields in Central Park he begs her to come home, only to scare her off, setting off a chase that will take Simon and his wife into a dangerous world of drugs, a world more dangerous than they could ever have imagined.  When Simon is approached by Elena, a private investigator from Chicago who is looking for a young man, he can’t imagine there is any connection, but the deeper he delves into the world in which his daughter is now living, the more evil he faces; the more Simon learns about why Paige has run away the more he questions everything he knew.  Another twisty, stand-alone thriller from the best-selling author.

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward
Maddie, who was horribly disfigured on a camping trip several years before, is afraid she’s losing her mind: she Googles “should I see a therapist” and decides she should.  Cami J has Maddie journaling and her many fears come out: when Charlie (her son) cries; when Ian (her husband) drinks in the basement, and when Ian gets angry, along with several other unlikely fears.  All this from a woman who, in her younger years, lived in Bulgaria, teaching English on a Fulbright Scholarship, and then writing a guide book, traveling frequently to Macedonia where her friend Jo is an aid worker, and where she meets Ian, and begins their tumultuous relationship.  Years later, Ian and Maddie are married, living in rural Kansas with their young son Charlie, Ian still working overseas, Maddie and Jo estranged over Maddie’s decision to marry Ian, all culminating in a night of killing and an aftermath that is much more twisted than ever imagined in this startling, sophisticated debut.  A pick for March.

Save Me from Dangerous Men S.A. Lelchuk
Nikki Griffin, a 33-year-old bookstore owner, has a second career: a vigilante PI.  At thirty-three, Nikki is very much a loner: all she needs are her books and her motorcycle.  She has no cell phone and tries to look after her junkie brother who lives nearby in Oakland.  Nikki’s typical clients are abused, cheated on women whose husband’s need a lesson in how to leave their female partners alone.  She is a little startled when she is approached by the CEO of Care4, a Silicon Valley start-up that manufactures baby monitors, to investigate Karen Li, an employee who may be trading the company’s secrets.  Nikki agrees, and easily tails Karen: but what she finds is an entirely different story than Gregg Gunn told her.  Nikki’s investigation takes a dangerous turn, and puts her life and her brother’s at risk.  This tightly wound protagonist with a hidden back story, revealed slowly and partially during court-ordered weekly therapy sessions, makes this thriller, with an equally tightly woven plot, a stellar debut; readers will be eager to see more of Nikki and the women she protects.