PositiveBooklist... as the pages turn and the past and present and the real and liminal alternate, readers will become as enmeshed as Ross while the girls’ two lives—one in the house (a portion of the story that’s overly long), the other after they run away—unspool to devastation. Beware: sexual and coercive abuse abound here. But there’s more to the book than psychological voyeurism. Johnstone’s twisting debut novel stands alone as one to notice, and it’s a must for fans of unreliable narrators.
RaveBooklistThe afterword to this chilling dystopian debut thriller, which centers on life in a more-lethal-than-COVID epidemic, notes that it was written before our current pandemic; it gets so much right, though, from day-to-day headaches to deep despair ... Sweeney-Baird skillfully re-creates the head-spinning feeling of watching the virus pop up here, then there, and ever closer to home, and of its systematic destruction in every corner of society ... Sweeney-Baird’s look inside the heads of these and other shocked, desperate characters and her portrait of a bizarre new world are both thought- and fear-provoking. Readers will either wolf this down or elect to stay miles away from it, but controversy moves titles off the shelf. A top choice.
RaveBooklistThis wonderful debut, by an author who herself trod Masha’s family’s path from the Soviet Union to the Midwest, is a match for patrons who enjoyed Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (2000) or Rachel Zhong’s Goodbye, Vitamin (2017). It’s also a must for anyone who has ever had a needy Grandma who anticipates death every morning (this character alone is worth the read).
PositiveBooklistAnna’s trauma as well as that of earlier victims, and the hunt for Cameron and for Polly, entwine to immerse readers in a misty world of pain, longing, and sometimes victory and redemption. McLain offers readers flashes of insight—watch out for personal blind spots, for example, as what’s too close to see might be what’s most perilous—that will linger after the last, tension-packed pages of this thoughtful work.
RaveBooklistThe stakes are high here and will keep readers on edge ... Protecting the young man allows Barker and Llewelyn to flex their detecting muscles and display their determination and bravery. It also allows Thomas the opportunity to explore the intricate mechanism that is the British class system, especially when it comes to the meeting of workingmen and royalty. The street procession to the wedding is particularly immersive, and the dialogue—Llewelyn’s sardonic comments on his work and on royal life—and Thomas’ masterful depictions of jealousy and cunning also help drop readers right into the summer of 1893, along with the politics, danger, and romance that was the Romanovs’ world. Recommend this to fans of the series and of Sherlock Holmes.
RaveBooklistMaisie Dobbs is by now a beloved old friend to Winspear’s loyal readers, who will welcome her sixteenth wartime adventure. The fast-paced tale opens with runner Freddie—one of the boys employed to sprint through the streets of London with messages—witnessing a brutal murder ... Winspear never sugarcoats the horrors of war, and alongside the camaraderie shown by these characters and the Londoners surrounding them she delivers terrible truths that must be endured. More than in previous books, Maisie is growing tired of the constant blows to her circle and the uncertainties of life in wartime, with Winspear successfully showing a more melancholy side to her steadfast heroine. Fans of the series will need no encouragement to try this, and they’ll be thrilled with the ending.
PositiveBooklistWhen academic frenemies reunite at a conference, it brings back sad, sordid memories of their time in the Program, a claustrophobic midwestern graduate program with classes like Ret-Con Dynamics and the Sedentary Sublime ... Gentry has academic pettiness and feigned lack of ambition down pat, while also drawing a painful, all-too-real picture of a poor student trying to keep up with richer peers. Mac as narrator creates a tale of psychological survival and suspense that readers of Gentry’s Good as Gone and other tales of women struggling in a world that wants them to fail will relish.
PositiveBooklistWinter-sports fans are in for a treat here, as are all who enjoy a tale of extremes; the fierce competition between women characters is also a bonus. The answer to who’s pulling the strings here is a little incredible, but overall this debut is an atmospheric winter treat. Recommend it to those who enjoyed recent tales of reunions gone awry.
PositiveBooklistReferences to events in the previous book will likely be confusing for readers who haven’t read it, but, otherwise, this is an absorbing look at small-town politics and relationships set against the intrigue of a mysterious death. Jodi Picoult’s fans will be an apt audience for Blanchard’s chilling latest.
Romy Hausmann, Trans. by Jamie Bulloch
RaveBooklistOne of the children, Hannah, is a major character here. She is meticulously written, with her autism, trauma, and echoes of the horrific life she thought normal combining to create a child, like Jack in Room, whom readers will never forget. As unsettling as they come, this outstanding debut, translated from German, is recommended not only to Donoghue’s fans, but also to those who enjoy true crime, as the verisimilitude here is second to none. The movie can’t be far behind.
PositiveBooklistA thicket of characters demands some concentration, but it’s worth it to soak up Osman’s wry character building and dialogue, which perfectly encapsulate everyone from the flashy developer, who quickly meets his end, to a young police officer who can’t believe she’s on a murder case. Numerous suspects prove to have done misguided things from love, with the solution resembling Churchill’s \'riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.\' Readers will want to hear more from Osman and his engaging cast, especially the bumbling, kind Joyce; in the meantime, recommend Christopher Fowler’s Bryant & May series.
PositiveBooklist...a tea-and-crumpets-laced whodunit ... Two characters are the inventors of Peepers, a board game that they hope will push Monopoly off its perch, so recommend this to board-game aficionados as well as to fans of Christie and Hannah.
PositiveBooklist...[an] inventive debut ... As the tales within a tale unfold, readers are treated to wonderful mini-mysteries that are interspersed with the author and editor’s conversations and followed by Hart’s ingenious sleuthing into Grant’s background and the truth behind The White Murders. Pavesi’s language immerses readers in mid-twentieth-century England and in the struggles, cruelties, and oddities of his multitude of carefully portrayed characters. Give this atmospheric puzzle to fans of short stories and of the American Mystery Classics series.
RaveBooklistMost effective here are the switches in perspective between the FBI investigation and the feisty captives, who are not sitting around waiting for their fate. Readers will find themselves devouring this genuinely gripping thriller in one (long) sitting as the clues become more esoteric and the twists mount. Cooper’s series is ideal for fans of Patricia Cornwell and for readers who crave more mysteries with women of color in the lead.
PositiveBooklistThis affecting look at familial and maternal bonds keeps readers wondering until the end what the man’s motivation could be. The abusive marriage that’s shown in flashbacks is convincingly drawn, and the drama that unfolds over one long day of imprisonment also feels all too real. Give this to fans of psychological thrillers and of strong female characters.
RaveBooklistIn a gripping medical thriller...Wright meticulously paints the direst personal, social, and political scenarios that a virus can create, focusing particularly on the U.S. and Middle East descending into anarchy. Readers will find a memorable character in Henry, a doctor who is shown living with a disability while getting on with crucial work and family life. His family, too, will stay with readers, as the consequences for them form a heartbreaking microcosm of world events and the lengths to which humans will go to survive. This book is likely to be on best-of-the-year lists and is a must for public libraries.
RaveThe Library Journal...[a] delightfully sardonic, insightful debut ... Overall, this surprising novel is believable and piercingly written, with many hilarious lines, such as when Ava wonders if a nasty English character is \'a real person or three Mitford sisters in a long coat.\' For fans of Rachel Khong’s Goodbye, Vitamin.
PositiveBooklistWhile the book can flag in the middle, an exciting ending and a charming character in Jane provide ample compensation. This is well worth recommending to patrons who liked the other books in the series as well as to those who are in the market for an Upstairs, Downstairs–tinged mystery.
PositiveBooklistJakeman...offers here a twisty tale of gaslighting, revenge, and redemption that will be a hit with everyone who relishes an abuser getting his comeuppance.
Simone St. James
RaveBooklistWhile Carly’s quest benefits from a couple of overly lucky breaks, this terrifying story is guaranteed to keep readers rapt. Booktalk this one to your mystery-loving readers until you run out of superlatives. What a story!
PositiveBooklistThe book quickly hits top gear, with Nora alternately leaning on friends and associates and braving danger alone to fight for Bonnie, not to mention to save herself. Some of the male characters aren’t greatly distinguished from each other here, but the action is the draw, and it doesn’t let up. Fans of thrillers starring strong women will enjoy this Vancouver-set story of love facing down evil.
PositiveBooklistAs usual, Daugherty deftly handles the multiple plot strands, including a romantic thread that sees Harper in on-again, off-again confusion with a local cop whom readers will root for in his efforts to win Harper’s affections. Recommend this one to fans of the author’s previous works as well as those who enjoy mysteries starring strong women who’ve had it tough.
PositiveBooklistWell into this tale, White delivers a shocking, excellently executed twist that will have readers reexamining their assumptions about Kate and Abby; this and the sordid details of decades-old misery and fierce parental love make The Wife and the Widow a story to remember. Fans of White’s debut will be pleased with this follow-up; try it, too, with patrons who enjoyed Jane Harper’s similar The Dry (2017).
PositiveBooklistShelton’s portrayal of the bonds between people that are an essential component of life in a rough environment is a highlight here; the ties that Beth forms and reluctantly relies upon save her from the more frightening elements of the two mysteries at play—whether she can remember enough about her kidnapper to put him away, and what happened to Linda Rafferty. Readers are left wondering up to the last exciting page what the answers are, and will eagerly await the second in this new Alaska mysteries series from the author of the Scottish Bookshop mysteries.
PositiveBooklistWhat seems an open-and-shut case becomes much more, with Blanchard carefully peeling away layers of history and deception before pulling off a shocking twist. Lockhart is a relatable new heroine on the police-procedural scene, and one who will appeal to readers of Tana French.
PositiveBooklistThe whodunit offers challenges to even savvy mystery fans, and it is nicely complemented by a sweet romance between Hayley and a local professor, with extra intrigue thrown in by the presence of Lady Fowling’s gold-digger nephew. This series debut will delight lovers of literary-themed romance and mystery; the perfect companion, of course, is the nearly eponymous Christie work, but fans of Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry (2014) should also be steered toward Wingate’s latest.
PositiveBooklistWhile the narrative jumps back and forth in time can be muddling, the novel effectively probes the teenage psyche while offering a compelling look at the perils of an insular society. A great read-alike for Malin Persson Giolito’s Quicksand...and the Netflix series it spawned.
PositiveBooklistOverall, the stories are genuinely short and showcase Christie’s talent for storytelling as well as for accessible writing, which means the material will also work perfectly in writing workshops and as assigned readings. A worthy purchase for short story and mystery fans; the release of the Downton Abbey movie might also increase demand for materials from this period.
PositiveBooklistThis character-driven investigation includes delightfully batty characters and situations ... fast moving and takes close reading to keep up with, but it’s worth it. Give to Truss’ fans as well as those who enjoy Christopher Fowler’s Bryant and May mysteries.
PositiveBooklist... gives new context to the fatal forces that drive Homer’s epic: loyalty, machismo, and entitlement to women ... Some of the violence here, especially a \'kneecapping\' scene and the treatment of a dead British soldier’s body, is hard to read; there’s also sexual crudeness aplenty. But there’s humor too, which, combined with the stellar writing (especially in the use of Northern Irish speech patterns and slang) and the revelation that, where men’s territoriality is concerned, nothing has changed since Homer’s time, makes this well worth reading. Readers may be inspired to tackle The Iliad after finishing Hughes’ work; they should also be guided toward Brian Friel’s play Translations, which involves a nonviolent but still fraught confrontation between Irish and English cultures.
PositiveBooklistElena’s many narrow escapes and Perry’s immersive re-creation of Nazi-era Europe will keep readers enthralled by this series debut. The numerous characters working behind the scenes both for and against Elena are well drawn, but it is the smart, gritty heroine herself who will ensure that readers eagerly anticipate the next in the series.
RaveBooklistCooper has created a lovable crew of family and colleagues around Altair; the author’s whip-smart plotting and crisp writing make them characters to remember. This one will leave fans waiting for more, and they may not have long to wait, as Cooper appears to be following a one-book-a-year schedule. The combination of science and personal warmth makes Cooper’s protagonist a natural for devotees of Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta.
PositiveBooklistThe story, characters, and language here immerse readers in a twisty case that involves more than one dysfunctional family. Frear almost ties all these strands up neatly at the end, until Cat’s past comes back to bite her again, leaving things ripe for book three. Frear’s fans will enjoy the focus on grown-up Cat; Dervla McTiernan’s readers are another likely audience.
PositiveBooklistFans of Agatha Christie and Sophie Hannah will welcome this latest ... From sandstorms to patriarchal dismissiveness toward Iraqis, the setting is effectively portrayed; the enjoyably exasperating characters involved in this well-executed mystery are a treat, too.
Malin Persson Giolito, Trans. by Rachel WIllson-Broyles
PositiveBooklistAward-winning Swedish author Giolito excels at portraying those accused of horrible crimes ... the plot frames what is the best part of the writing, an intricate examination of the psyches of criminals and those who work with them, accompanied by pointed questions about who is served by the justice system. While this is a fine novel on its own merits, it is perhaps a bit less compelling than its predecessor [Quicksand]. Still, both novels are great reads, and libraries should have them on hand for when Netflix airs its production of Quicksand on April 15, 2019.
PositiveBooklist...the strong kinship ties among the characters’ Navajo community, the odd crimes that can happen there, and the lengths desperate people will go to for survival ... These features, along with the crime stories, will make the book a natural hit with Hillerman’s many fans; it’s also a good choice for readers who are interested in fiction touching on today’s social issues—in this case, controversies surrounding museum artifacts of questionable provenance.
PositiveBooklistThis engaging story offers plenty on Parsi culture, how India’s royalty and British rule clashed and collaborated before Independence, and how purdah (the seclusion of women) was practiced in everyday life. While there are some less-exciting sections that occasionally slow the narrative, this second in the series will certainly please readers looking for an engaging new female lead.
RaveBooklistKiernan’s smart writing carefully doles out twists and clues as the puzzle comes to an unexpected and edgy ending. Along the way, she paints a rich picture of contemporary Dublin life, its social pretenses and nothing-to-lose characters both crashing against the justice system. Readers will watch for more from Kiernan[.]
David R Dow
PositiveBooklistWhile the main character’s actions are sometimes a little far-fetched, the questions of who gets justice and why court procedure seems to take such precedence over indivdual lives will stay with readers after the satisfying ending to this surprising read. An apt suggestion for further reading is Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy (2014), a nonfiction exposé of the same kinds of wrongs.
Rachel Howzell Hall
PositiveBooklistThough some of the secondary characters aren’t made distinct enough from one another, which may prove confusing, those who give Hall’s fifth novel a try will stick with it for the compelling story and a more diverse set of characters than one typically finds in mysteries. The book is a solid recommendation for patrons looking for something after Fred Van Lente’s Ten Dead Comedians (2017).
PositiveBooklist...although it works fine as a stand-alone, this fast-moving, second entry in the series (after A Death of No Importance, 2018) builds an immersive account of life in the early twentieth century ... Readers will await more adventures with the plucky, wise Jane. Try this with patrons who enjoyed Jessica Fellowes’ The Mitford Murders (2018) and with fans of mysteries that have solid historical-fiction underpinnings.
PositiveBooklistDobbs’ hunt for the killer, aided by the dashing agent of the book’s title, is a lesson in English gentility; Winspear also offers an intriguing view of the WWII propaganda machine that sought to convince Americans to join the fray. The historical descriptions are sometimes stiff, as when characters discuss at length conditions that the other party in the conversation would already know about, but, overall, this is an immersive tale of wartime grit and grief. Fans of the series won’t be disappointed; the book can also cross over to historical-mystery buffs and devotees of British detective shows.
PositiveBooklist\"The geographic and personal odyssey portrayed in this detailed and, at times, heart-stopping saga takes readers from a rational, cozy U.S. existence to a Siberian hut, with the personal transformations just as startling. While the novel is somewhat topical, it can be recommended long after the current Russian government’s machinations leave the headlines; try it with fans of Paullina Simons and of Orange Is the New Black.\
PositiveBooklist\"As usual, the characters here are varied and described with gritty clarity, and the puzzle facing the duo involves a delightful mix of L.A. culture, this time from its dive bars to its much more serious side. Kellerman needs no selling to his legions of fans.\
RaveBooklistAward-winning Scottish author Russell makes his American debut here, and it’s not only one of the most memorable thrillers of the year; it’s also unique: the premise is strikingly original, and the mood created by the juxtaposition of the patients’ memories and the real-time horrors is utterly chilling. Readers will eagerly await other books by the author becoming available stateside.
PositiveBooklistA tale that illustrates all that families can be, good and bad. Without resorting to stereotypes, Ellis deftly shows just how different the stakes are for kids who supposedly live in the same world but who face very different obstacles and possibilities. This thoughtful entry in the Searchers series will satisfy fans of the previous work as well as those who enjoy a well-crafted look at New York’s underbelly.
PositiveBooklistWhite has written a \'returning-to-your-southern-roots\' tale with a difference; Kim is exploring roots she never knew she had, and the journey is as bumpy and fraught with bewildered feelings as readers might imagine. While secondary characters are not as developed as Kim, this worthwhile story of a woman’s quest for the truth will work with women’s-fiction readers as well as mystery fans.
PositiveBooklistGripping and terrifying ... Adams peppers the tale with twist after twist; these hairpin turns, coupled with a cast of devious characters, drive the narrative and build suspense. At times, one wonders if Darby really can possibly survive yet another perilous situation, but, overall, this is an enthralling tale that features a wonderfully relatable and gutsy heroine. Give it to readers looking for a female-led drama in the mode of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its sibling works.
PositiveBooklistGentry’s take on building suspense is unconventional; the book starts out as a wry look at the struggle that is show business, then turns into a buddy story before finally becoming a gripping psychological thriller as revenge pranks become something other ... Both vividly realistic and taken straight from #MeToo headlines. A topical, compelling read that librarians should hand to Paula Hawkins’ fans.
Ed. by Huw Lewis-Jones
RaveLibrary Journal... [a] treat for literature and cartography fans ... insightful essays ... The text and images present...stellar quality, with the more than 200 maps (loosely defined; some are maps of the human body, for example) exquisitely reproduced in full color, often covering whole pages or spreads. Lengthy source notes and a thorough index are scholarly bonuses ... A must for large literary and cartography collections; a wonderful browsing item as well.
Antonio Manzini, Trans. by Antony Shugaar
PositiveBooklistIn the Alpine town of Aosta, Italy, endearingly bumbling police officers and quaint café-society denizens uneasily coexist with less-fortunate citizens and brutal criminals ... Chiara’s story torturously elongates time as readers suffer her bewilderment and pain, hanging on for rescue as the pages turn. This plot point alone is worth the read, with Schiavone and his hapless colleagues a bonus. A next-read for those who enjoy Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti series and Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache novels.
MixedBooklistTruss transplants the quirky, clever wit that drove her nonfiction best-seller, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, to fiction in this adaptation of a radio show starring Brighton, England, police officers Steine, Brunswick, and Twitten and featuring assorted oddballs on both sides of the law. Newbie Twitten, who’s thought to be too smart for his own good, hopes his career is on the upswing when he happens to be seated beside a malodorous, mean theater critic just as the man is killed. Inspector Steine believes the crime is related to a massacre in Brighton years before, and the ensuing investigation takes delightful twists and turns that reveal sordid secrets and long-ago crimes underlying the resort town’s jolly character. It is, at times, difficult to keep track of the numerous characters involved in this post-WWII drama, but a close reading brings rewards. Truss’ language, unsurprisingly, sparkles, and her portrayal of class and its exasperating effect on even the British underworld is memorable. Readers of Agatha Christie are a natural audience for this study in peculiarity.
PositiveBooklistThe mysteries involved, one of which hints at the supernatural, are satisfying and wrapped up in a way that readers won’t see coming. Recommend to fans of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache novels.
PositiveBooklistFans who are familiar with Carpenter know that his wisecracks mask a determination to find justice; there is plenty of smart-alecky talk here, as expected, but the tale is also rife with exciting showdowns, plot twists, and, yes, a little holiday warmth, after all. Fans of legal thrillers that freely move in and out of the courtroom should definitely get acquainted with Andy Carpenter.
RaveBooklist\"A tenth-wedding-anniversary weekend turns nightmarish as several siblings, cousins, and their spouses gather in a fancy house on the Scottish coast to celebrate ... The family members realize with horror that they have been to this house before, when they were much younger, and there are hints dropped that something awful happened then ... Though some secondary characters are indistinct, this realistically written, gripping suspense tale is one readers will want to finish in a single long sitting, especially if they crave country-house mysteries. McPherson is also the author of the Dandy Gilver series.
PositiveBooklistA compelling flashback-and-present-day mystery ... fans of British mysteries or of cold-case procedurals are the natural audience for this strongly written outing ... it may also appeal to devotees of the many true-crime podcasts out there today.
RaveBooklist\"The multiple, intertwined points of view cleverly reveal how a horrific crime isn’t a day in the making, nor is it quick to recover from, and the story will leave readers looking anew at events they thought they had figured out. Readers who enjoy a police procedural with a sturdy lawmaker at the helm are the audience for this slow-burning but thoroughly satisfying mystery.\
PositiveBooklistIt’s refreshing to read a tale in which the heroine is likable even as her decisions will make readers shake their heads in frustration; her exit from deprivation is by no means guaranteed, and the ending to the treacherous dilemma she’s dragged into is deftly handled by Massey. Often-piercing language is a bonus, as are the nail-biting poker games whose play-by-plays are drawn out to satisfying effect. Readers who enjoy Wiley Cash and Willy Vlautin should try this notable debut.
PositiveBooklist\"Fans of the series will appreciate that Lieutenant Leaphorn, injured in a previous series entry, makes an appearance here. Also present in Hillerman’s accessible and relaxingly paced work are her usual unobtrusive and enjoyable details about Navajo culture and the southwestern landscape. Readers who enjoy the work of Anne’s father, Tony Hillerman, as well as mysteries by Nevada Barr, will welcome another outing with Leaphorn, Chee, and Manuelito.\
PositiveBooklistSchepp’s previous books in the trilogy were highly successful, and this fast-moving tale of intrigue and revenge will likely find a similarly large readership. Fans of Scandinavian crime novels will enjoy Schepp’s work, which is a natural choice after Jo Nesbø and Anne Holt; Jana Berzelius will also be a hit with readers who enjoy a strong female lead.
PositiveBooklistWhile the first story is more enjoyable than the second, which drags a little, this is overall a very entertaining set of tales, and readers will enjoy finding clues in the whodunit that will help solve the mystery in the latter tale. Perfect for readers of Christie and Sophie Hannah, for lovers of mysteries with a splash of metafiction, and, of course, for fans of Horowitz’s other work in multiple genres, for both young people and adults.
Malin Persson Giolito
RaveBooklist...astonishing ... In crafting a first-person narrative told by a school shooter, many authors would go too far, creating an overly likable character; Giolito masterfully walks this fine line, developing a protagonist whom readers will remain intrigued by and ambivalent about, but whom they won’t necessarily like. Giolito’s past as a lawyer and as a European Union official poke through the pages as she exposes the cutting racism that refugees in Europe endure, even in supposed left-wing-idyll Sweden. Praise must also go to translator Willson-Broyles, as the incisive language that’s on display here surely involves translation precision that’s second to none.