RaveBookPageBath Haus starts out as a cat-and-mouse thriller, but by the end you’ll realize that everyone is both cat and mouse. You’ll also be a breathless wreck, because this book is not fooling around. Author P.J. Vernon’s (When You Find Me) concoction moves with can’t-put-it-down quickness, but you may find yourself lingering over it nonetheless. The writing is economical when it needs to be, but descriptions of the couple’s swanky Georgetown home are full of visual pops ... Things come to a head in a finale that initially feels like a collision between The Boys in the Band and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? but quickly spirals into genuine nail-biting terror. Don’t miss Bath Haus. It’s intricate, speedy and scary.
PositiveBookPage... a gothic mystery whose ethereal tone and atmospheric detail allow it to step lightly between heavy revelations ... Amid this grief, Freya’s numb quality makes her passive involvement with Cory, and her half-formed ideas of what their life together might be, poignant as well as also a great source of tension for the reader as more information about the house and its history come to light. It’s an odd feeling, being happy for Freya while also internally screaming for her to get out while she can ... Peripheral characters are well rounded and figure into the plot in intricate ways ... Brooks’ gentle, depressive pace allows The Whispering House’s revelations to be truly shocking—the fallout from a missed phone call can feel as though the world hangs in the balance.
P J Tracy
RaveBookPage... flirts with the fantastical while staying grounded in the all-too-real ... Tracy introduces a lot of characters and story threads early in the going and then doesn’t stop adding them, which keeps the tension elevated ... Stretches of downtime, in which characters just try to process what’s going on, feel very real. Sam and Melody both work at a bar; the tedium of repetitive work and their parallel efforts to build new lives and avoid attention make them a sympathetic if unreliable pair. And Tracy’s dry humor and the irony of such grim crimes occurring in sunny Los Angeles lend a grittiness to the story ... The conclusion is a neatly timed, highly visual set piece that’s going to be killer in the inevitable movie adaptation. But even this feels like it has a sly wink to it, incorporating film tropes, such as the heroine with a twisted ankle, into a fight for survival in which a screenplay figures heavily. The layered storytelling and empathy offered to every character make Deep Into the Dark not just a hard-to-put-down thriller, but one that leaves the reader with much to think on, with no easy answers in sight.
PositiveBookPage... artfully paced ... Frear affords real respect to the dull, often repetitive nature of investigation, so each revelation feels earned and adds to the suspense ... It’s possible to read this book without having read the rest of the series, but you’ll just end up wanting to start from the beginning because these characters are a pleasure to discover; even incidental roles are fleshed out enough to feel real ... Frear’s tight control of the reins keeps the tension high. Shed No Tears grabs the reader and doesn’t let go.
RaveBookPageThis is a note-perfect whodunit, and even if Mayne went about his business unmolested it would still be a deliciously creepy novel. Author Elsa Hart...has great fun with the time period—it’s set in 1703—and the complications of science and fact running headlong into mythology and occult beliefs ... High society and the secret societies within make a terrific backdrop for a story that often hinges on the ways women are presumed unimportant, thus allowing them to explore and find evidence while going undetected.
RaveBookPage... a hair-raising, mind-bending trip ... Hand does not shy away from bleak, unlikable characters ... Hand’s language tightens when Cass spies a detail nobody else notices, but we feel the dead weight of her hangovers and the cranked-up jangle of her nerves. It’s unsettling but impossible to look away as elements line up to set a grim climax in motion ... Does this sound impossibly dark? It is! It’s also exquisitely suspenseful, and the paranoia suffusing the story is very much of our present moment. The idea that any single source can make sense of everything happening around us is as alluring as it is dangerous. Half of the mystery in The Book of Lamps and Banners is wondering whether Cass Neary will save us or take us down with her.
RaveBookPageThere is so much to unpack in this story, which balances a truly grim series of crimes with several funny subplots, often intermingling them in surprising ways. Two young enslaved boys gifted to Albia’s household witness the killing and disappear; what starts as an odd bit of comic relief ends in a mix of tragedy and tenderness. Albia herself continues to be a treasure, grateful for her place in society because it was not always such, but willing to disobey nearly any order if her curiosity is piqued. Davis fills her stories with meticulous research, and the details make for such rich reading, we would likely follow Albia on a day of errands and light entertainment with no crime to speak of. But it’s thrilling to watch her follow a line of inquiry and connect the dots that others fail to see, so we can be glad that she rarely fails to find trouble and charge headlong toward it.
PositiveBookPageThe balance Montclair strikes between humor and hard truths is arresting ... Gwen and Iris sling banter that makes them sound like the war-hardened women they are, but a scene in a therapist’s office makes the depth of their separate sorrows, and their care for one another, abundantly clear. Descriptions of neighborhoods where one building stands next to bombed-out rubble are unnerving and add to the sense of danger ... The climactic scene laying out the whodunit (and why) is like a maraschino cherry in a complex cocktail. Here’s to the return of these formidable women, and to many more chances to enjoy their company.
PositiveBookPage... never content with one twist; this book is a high-speed, high-stakes labyrinth of reverses and double crosses ... While reading, you can almost feel Cooper’s delight in the traps she lays ... Occasional moments of rest, when we learn about the neuroscience behind psychopathic behavior and how it differs from psychosis, are as gripping as the field work and chases, if not more so. The whip-crack pacing and constant sense of being pulled toward multiple leads make for compulsive, blow-through-your-bedtime reading, and if you think it doesn’t end with a bang and a half, think again. Cut to the Bone is a wild ride, creepy while still being a lot of fun.
PositiveBookPage... a dark and stormy mystery that sets doubt and certainty against one another for up-all-night reading ...Wegert’s debut is impressive in its scope ... As Death in the Family draws to a close, the Sinclair matter is resolved, but we’ve barely pulled back the curtain on Shana’s past. It’s enormously frustrating to close a book knowing you have to wait for the next installment, but it speaks to how finely this debut is engineered. Death in the Family marks a bold beginning to an addictive new series.
PositiveBookPageThe twists and turns keep peeling veils off an evil nobody wants to look at head-on, and culminate in a breakneck final act. The forensic analysis of shallow graves can unearth a lot of clues, but When You See Me also looks at the ways evil is handed down from one generation to the next. It’s a mystery that will keep you up late at night, haunted by the events within its pages.
PositiveBookPageBerry has fun with the contradictions at play in Ellie’s life ... The village and its townsfolk are a conundrum as well; the story is contemporary, but the rural English setting makes things feel old-fashioned, adding to the overall charm. When a young girl defies her mother and basically apprentices herself to Ellie without so much as asking permission, it’s not only funny but also moves the story forward in unexpected ways ... For a witch with no real powers, Ellie still has some connection to the paranormal via her dead sister, with whom she communicates. Their exchanges can be humorous but primarily serve as a more serious, grounding subplot to a story that otherwise bubbles along like a hot cauldron.
Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
PositiveBookPageJon Land, who shares author credit with Fletcher, gives the story plentiful twists, including when a member of the Boston mafia manages, despite being incarcerated, to send two accomplices after Jessica. They’re intimidating at first, but ultimately a source of comic relief ... Much like the show, there are emotional stakes at play, but also a lot of discussion over pie and coffee with friends and locals. There’s a fabulously over-the-top action sequence at the climax, but flashbacks to a young, married Jessica moving into her dream home with her husband and nephew grab at the heartstrings and pull ... A character doesn’t persist through 50 books if she’s not an all-star, and this volume shows just why that’s the case.
PositiveBookPageA Capitol Death is a traditional whodunit set in ancient times, but it feels remarkably fresh. Author Lindsey Davis...balances grit and frivolity with ease. Flavia feels like the love child of Philip Marlowe and Carrie Bradshaw—she’s on the case, observing and reporting with care, but keeps a running line of saucy commentary on everyone throughout ... The story builds with numerous twists toward a thrilling conclusion, but much of the pleasure comes from the deep, realistic world Davis has created and the people who inhabit it.
PositiveBookPage... a thriller that gets uncomfortably close to pure evil and lets you breathe in the stench ... The ugliness of the human condition contrasts with the gorgeous Hudson Valley, and Coleridge’s country shack is a refuge from the people who so often cross his path. His office, though, is a noir gem straight out of Hammett or Chandler, right down to the smoky glass in the door, and he has run-ins with a showgirl cut from similar cloth. After a harrowing showdown as the chase concludes, there’s a scene so tender it nearly induced whiplash. For all the darkness in Black Mountain, it has a hero who burns bright.
RaveBookpageOlivia Kiernan’s latest mystery has a whipsaw plot and list of suspects that will chill your blood ... Kiernan spins this tale with gritty realism—you can feel the damp chill of an Irish summer and smell the creosote and salt along the coast ... Pitting loyalty to family against the search for truth and justice, The Killer in Me is a high-stakes noir page turner.
RaveBookpageIn the 1950s, Brighton, England, was bucolic and lovely—if you disregard the hooligans, Teddy Boys and other criminal mischief- makers lurking about ... This farcical tale is packed with interwoven plotlines, clues strewn about like confetti and a comically oblivious chief inspector. It reads like a stage comedy, and in fact Truss has written four seasons’ worth of Inspector Steine dramas for BBC Radio. There are no dark and stormy nights here, just gorgeous seaside views marred by occasional corpses. The ’60s are coming, but for now, women are still largely ignored; this turns out to be its own kind of liberation, since who would suspect them? Sharp and witty, A Shot in the Dark is a good time.