Saturday, August 31, 2019

New for September

Pretty Guilty Women by Gina LaManna
Four women confess to the same murder of one man during a destination wedding at an exclusive California resort.  Three of the women are college friends of the bride, though they have mostly been out of touch for the last twenty years.  Whitney, the bride has a full schedule planned for her guests for the week, but that schedule does not include murder.  Kate, a successful lawyer seems to have it all, but the one thing she wasn’t more than anything, a baby, is elusive.  Ginger, the harried mother of three is worried her sixteen-year-old daughter Elise is up to something, and Emily, who plans to drink her way through the festivities, is Ginger’s ex-bestie, and both are apprehensive about the reunion; 68-year-old Lulu is the groom’s aunt and seems to have no connection the the young so why would she confess to the crime? Add Sydney Banks and her adorable baby Lydia, how do they fit in, and what is Sydney hiding, and you’ve got a light, frothy read, perfect for the end of the summer; though the characters are a bit shallow, the twists, especially at the end, make the read worth it.

The Sisters of Summit Avenue by Lynn Cullen
June Whiteleather seems to have it all: a big house in Minneapolis, her husband Richard, a prominent surgeon, and is one of the women behind the iconic Betty Crocker, but wants a child.  Her younger sister Ruth lives on a struggling farm with her husband John who has a mysterious sleeping illness, and her mother.  It’s 1934 and Ruth fears for John and how what her life has become and what it will be, especially if he never recovers.  When Richard and Ruth visit the farm with a possible cure for John’s ailment, many secrets from the past are revealed, secrets that have cause lost love between the two sisters.  The resolution of the sisters’ story is bittersweet, and the plot is a little slow, yet still enjoyable.  Fans of The Lager Queen of Minnesota will enjoy the bond between the sisters.

The Nanny by Gilly Macmillan
When Jocelyn is seven-years-old she wakes up one morning in her parents' English estate, Lake Hall, to find her beloved nanny Hannah has left.  Two decades later, Jo is living in California, estranged from her mother and her life in England.  The father of her daughter Ruby dies unexpectedly, leaving Jo with no option other than to return home with her daughter to live in her childhood home with her mother.  As she and Ruby begin to settle in, they find a human skull along the lakeshore, opening a police inquiry, but first in Jo’s mind is, could this skull belong to Hannah?  When a stranger appears at the door, Jo is startled and confused, and realizes there are more secrets than her mother is sharing in this fast-paced, twisty domestic thriller.

The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup
There is a serial killer on the loose in Copenhagen in this debut by the writer and creator of the TV series The Killing. Naia Thulin is a young police detective who hopes to advance from the Major Crimes Division to the national cybercrime unit, but she is a calm, logical thinker and her politically ambitious boss doesn’t seem anxious to lose her.  She is partnered with Mark Hess who was asked to leave Europol and couldn’t be less interested in their current investigation.  Investigating brutal murders is disturbing enough, but there is a calling card left at each: a doll made from chestnuts; almost immediately, a finger print is recovered from a chestnut man, but it is unbelievably that of the 12-year-old daughter of Rosa Hartung, the Minister of Social Affairs.  Kristine was kidnapped over a year ago and is presumed dead adding an unsettling twist to this case.  Though the murders are gruesome, the detailed investigation, including the more unsavory side of the police department and government, well-rounded characters, and a motive over two decades in the making, make this an outstanding police procedural. 

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs: Big Questions from tiny Mortals About Death by Caitlin Doughty
In her third book, funeral director Caitlin Doughty addresses questions posed to her by some of the younger people she has encountered.  These questions are asked in earnest and Doughty answers them with honesty, and perhaps a bit of levity, but matter of factly, taking some of the fear and mystery out of what has happened to Grandma.  Included in these thirty-five questions are things such as why corpses make noises, do hair and nails grow after death? Can you exhume your pet after burying it in the backyard, and why can’t you save a skull of a loved one?  Well-researched and based on years as an alternative mortician, make this book as compelling as Doughty’s first two Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: and Other Lessons from the Cremator, and From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find a Good Death without taking the solemnity of her job out of the equation.

29 Seconds T. M. Logan
Sarah is a professor whose department chair Alan is a sexual harasser.  After Sarah saves the life of a young girl, the girl’s father makes an offer to Sarah: give him a name, and he will make that person disappear without a trace and without any link to Sarah.  Sarah only has 24-hours to make her decision, and she is certain she could never live with herself if she did such a thing.  After getting turned down for tenure, something Sarah is certain Alan is behind, she serious considers the offer.  This book explores the moral dilemma of just how much a person can bear, and how far someone would go when pushed too far.  Twisty with one surprise after another, this sophomore novel is engrossing and hard to put down.

Invisible as Air Zoe Fishman
Three years after the death of a stillborn baby girl, Delilah, Sylvia Snow and her family are still grieving, each in their own way: husband Paul has thrown himself into triathlon training, has become addicted to buying exercise equipment, and now due to an injury, finds himself relying on Sylvia for his most basic needs; their twelve-year-old son Teddy is keeping his grief to himself sensing his parents’ pain, love movies, has his first girlfriend, and is preparing for his Bar Mitzvah, something he’s not completely sold on as only his mother is Jewish.  Sylvia continues to be a force of nature, taking care of Paul and Teddy, running a perfect home, being active in the PTA, and planning Teddy’s Bar Mitzvah.   When the anniversary of Delilah’s birth and death arrives, Sylvia finds herself falling apart more than usual, and seeing Paul’s unused pain pills decides they are just what she needs to get through until after Teddy’s big day.  All too soon, Sylvia finds herself out of control, addicted to opiates, doing things she could never have imagined doing to get more.  It is this, and Teddy going missing, that wakes Paul up, wakes up the entire family that they are in face in crisis, and need help to continuing moving forward.  This is a painful and uncomfortable book but very timely nevertheless.

Clear My Name by Paula Daley
Tess Gilroy is the lone investigator for a British non-profit, Innocence U.K., an organization that fights to free inmates who have been wrongly convicted. Carrie Kamara is in prison for stabbing her husband’s lover to death, a crime she maintains she did not commit.  To investigate, Tess must return to her hometown, a place she has been avoiding for years, and face her own secrets.  As she returns to her coastal hometown in northern England, she finds herself struggling not only with her own demons, but also her doubts as to whether Carrie is in fact innocent.  Eagle-eyed readers are likely to figure out the outcome early on, but there is enough tension to keep the pace brisk and hold readers’ interest. 

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