Thursday, August 1, 2019

New for August...

The Wolf Wants In by Laura McHugh

Sadie Keller’s brother Shane died and no one, his wife included, really seems to care to investigate too much; overdoses are on the rise in Blackwater, Kansas, and it would seem Shane is just another victim.  Not willing to let Shane’s death go, Sadie, along with her sister Becca, begin to ask questions, especially after a young child’s skull is found in the nearby woods.  Henley Pettit is eighteen years old and wants nothing more than to get out of Blackwater before her dysfunctional, criminal family draws her in more, but she’s afraid she’ll never escape alive.  Sadie looks into her brother’s death, going back in time to his last months, learning things she never knew about him; Henley’s narrative starts several months earlier, and moves into the present, Shane’s story bobbing in and out, perhaps holding the key to his death.  Rich in characters and settings, McHugh’s third novel has the feel of a Southern Gothic novel set in the mid-west.

The Cold Way Home by Julia Keller
Former prosecutor of Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, Bell Elkins, has partnered with former, now retired, sheriff Nick Fogelsong, and former deputy, now wheelchair-bound, Jake Oakes to form a private investigation while she waits for the reinstatement of her law license after serving time in jail for a crime committed when she was a child.  While searching for Dixie Sue, a young woman who has not been home in several weeks, they stumble across bones at Briney Hollow, deep in the woods where Bell played as a child, a place that was once home to Wellwood, a state mental hospital that used questionable therapies and burned down decades ago.  To the relief of Dixie Sue’s mother, the bones are not the young woman’s but Darla Gilley, whose brother Joe, now dying, was Nick’s best friend in high school.  Gilley’s ex-husband has a solid alibi, though Bell wouldn’t be bothered if he was the culprit, but Joe’s wife Brenda, with whom Darla had been living, seems to be hiding something, and the key may lie in the attic where Darla was staying.  Each of the trio must put aside their personal lives (adjusting to her new life for Bell, an affair for Nick who is in the process of divorcing his mental unstable wife, and Jake’s girlfriend wanting to start a family) as they delve into the horrific past of Wellwood, trying to learn what Darla learned, and who would want her dead for knowing.  Another solid entry into the long-running series with likeable, complex characters, and the town they hold so dearly.

The Oysterville Sewing Circle by Susan Wiggs
Aspiring clothing designer Caroline Shelby finds herself returning to her home in Oysterville, Washington after almost a decade in New York City after her boss stole her designs, and her best friend Angelique died of a drug overdose, something Caroline feels a great guilt for missing the signs.  Angelique and her two children, lived with Caroline in her apartment after Angelique showed up hiding from an abusive man Angelique refused to name.  With Flick and Addie in tow, Caroline tries to restart her life at home, reconnecting with her best friends Will and Sierra, a little awkward now as her best girlfriend married her high school boyfriend, and with her mentor who owns the sewing store where Caroline learned the skills of her trade and her love for fashion design.  As Caroline settles in, she realizes abuse is just as prevalent in her small town as it is in the big city and starts a sewing group to try and dispel the stigma of domestic abuse, and offer the victims a safe place to come together and heal.  Complex characters, a strong setting, and timely topic are all hallmarks of Wiggs’s latest work which will strike a chord with many readers.

City of Windows by Robert Pobi
Lucas Page, professor and former FBI agent, has been rebuilding his life after an incident with the FBI left him with one arm, one leg, and one eye.  Lucas has become a respected academic, best-selling author, has married, and with his wife, has fostered and adopted half a dozen children, and he hasn’t looked back.  When his former partner is shot by a sniper while driving an SUV in midtown Manhattan at the start of one of the worst blizzards in history, the lead agent appeals to Lucas for his help: Lucas has an innate ability to calculate angles and trajectories, almost as if he was able to see around corners.  Though he is apprehensive to get caught up in that life again, Lucas agrees and begins to follow the trail of murders of law enforcement members, seeming shot by an invisible sniper as the blizzard bears down on the city effectively obscuring, even wiping away, all evidence.  *This fast-paced, clever thriller uses the blizzard ravaged city to create an atmosphere where it is hard to see anything. A race to search the pasts of the victims to find a killer keeps the pace swift, and a damaged, intelligent, formidable main character make this a memorable thriller/police procedural.  Recommend to fans of James Patterson’s Michael Bennett series. 

The Bitterroots by C.J. Box
Former Sheriff’s officer Cassie Dewell left her job and North Dakota after catching the Lizard King, a serial killing truck driver who was targeting truck stop prostitutes.  Still terrified from the investigation and apprehension, single mom Cassie has moved her son and mother to Bozeman, Montana, where she is a private eye.  On of her clients is attorney Rachel Mitchell, for whom she is on retainer.  Cassie does the usual investigations, background checks, cheating spouses, but is called on by Mitchell to look into the handling of the arrest of a prominent business man from New York, Blake Kleinsasser, who has returned to his family’s compound in Lochsa County and stands accused of raping his fifteen-year-old niece.  Cassie finds Kleinsasser repugnant and hopes that there is nothing in his arrest and processing thus far that would prevent his conviction, though Mitchell has been hired to defend him, so Cassie zealously investigate.  Cassie is as unwelcomed in Lochsa County as Kleinsasser is, and the closer she looks the more she sees that things aren’t what they seem to be, and realizes that there is a lot more riding on Kleinsasser’s conviction than his freedom: his three other siblings stand to inherit a large ranch, possibly with mineral rights if he’s out of the picture.  At the same time, Cassie’s son is approaching his teenage years, and finding himself with his first girlfriend which leads to a startling twist. Though most of the plot proceeds as expected, the ending is worth the wait.  Cassie is just as compelling on her own as she was in Sheriff’s department and fans will look forward to seeing more of her.

The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Law student Rachel North is about to start her summer internship with Assistant District Attorney Martha Gardiner; her husband, defense attorney Jack Kirkland announces he strictly forbids it, saying that Martha cannot be trusted as she uses underhanded techniques to get convictions.  Rachel, who thinks she is smarter and cleverer than most people, sees this as an opportunity to study Martha’s methods and learn her tricks, making Rachel and Jack a formidable duo once she is admitted to the bar.  What Rachel doesn’t realize is that she is about to enter a cat and mouse game and she can’t be sure if she is the predator or the prey.  What is Rachel willing to do---and to give up---to get what she wants?  Investigative reported Hank Ryan has once again created a puzzle where nothing is as it seems; well plotted, multi-dimensional characters, and twists and turns will keep readers guessing, this is a book that deserves to be read slowly, but is so addictive, begging to be read in one big gulp.

Careful What You Wish for by Hallie Ephron

There is one person in professional organizer Emily Harlow’s life that she cannot declutter: her husband Frank.  Frank is addicted to yard sales, and though occasionally finds someone of use, a requested salad spinner, most of his finds end up on the basement or the garage.  One of Emily’s rules of decluttering is you can only declutter your stuff, and this has driven a wedge between the couple.  Two new clients give Emily something to focus on: an elderly woman has learned her recently deceased husband had a storage unit she knew nothing about; a young, newly married woman lives in a dream home, but her husband won’t allow her to move her stuff from her past life in.  When the young woman’s husband disappears and then is found murdered, Emily finds herself caught up in the investigation and possible a suspect.  A controlled narrative and sly, well-placed clues surprise at every turn, even at the end when everything is tied up, of course in a tidy, well-organized package.

The Whisper Man by Alex North

Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake are trying to rebuild their lives after Tom’s wife’s tragic death.  Jake has found solace in an imaginary friend, and Tom decides a new start in a new town, Featherbank, will be healing for both of them.  Tom thinks the house whispers at him, but decides Jake’s “friend” has moved wit them until Tom learns about the Whisper Man, a serial killer who was caught and convicted twenty years ago and remains in prison.  When a young boy goes missing, it is presumed there is a copy-cat; Jakes’ disappearance nearly sends Tom over the edge, and the narrative takes a horrifying, terrifying turn, until the DI who investigated the original crimes, crimes that haunt him until this day, agrees to speak to the Whisper Man in prison, hoping he will reveal his secrets; a final twist makes many things fall into this place.  A good choice for Joe Hill and Paul Tremblay fans.

The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter
Michelle Spivey, a doctor at the CDC was kidnapped at gun point a month ago. Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent Will Trent and his girlfriend Doctor Sara Linton are at a Sunday family dinner when an explosion at nearby Emory University sends them running; on the way, they come across a fatal car accident which they quickly realize is a set up and Sara is kidnapped, leaving Will feeling helpless. Told in alternating chapters, each in real time, Sara and Will’s stories unfold as Sara tries to stay alive and Will searches for the woman he loves.  A breakneck paced plot and two complicated characters with a complicated relationship make Slaughter’s latest a must read that fits nicely into her series but can also be read as a stand alone for newcomers.

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