Never Tell

In Never Tell, Alafair Burke tells the tale of Julia Whitmore’s death and how Detective Ellie Hatcher went against all of her instincts to investigate what looked like a clear cut suicide. Ellie is brought into the wealthy NYC world where kids attend exclusive prep schools that protect their name over their students, take drugs to help study harder, and where parents spend the week at the Hamptons while their 16 year old daughter has her own apartment suite in their house.

Det. Hatcher fights all her gut feelings to investigate this non-crime. She dives into the world of homeless kids living in a shelter and who’re paid to participate in drug trials. There are so many swirling worlds coming together, but its the ones that go back the furthest that seem to matter the most.

This was a suspenseful, exciting read. The first I’ve read by Alifair Burke and not my last.

Read July 2016.

The Ramblers

Aidan Donnelly Rowley’s story focused on a pair of New York couples, all successful and wealthy, either independently or their family. The Ramblers is a great name for this novel, since the couples seem to be rambling about their life trying to figure out what they should do, also for the spot in Central Park where Clio March leads her bird walk.

Clio, was born poor, but after her Yale education, she’s been living a much better life, mooching off her college roommate in her apartment off Central Park and enjoying a successful career at working with birds. However, Clio hasn’t come to terms with her bipolar mother, or her father who spent her life trying to hold her mom together, without any energy left for her and its impacting her relationship. Smith Anderson, the said roommate, was born into a very wealthy family, but her generosity is all her own. She’s still reeling after her fiancé suddenly cut off their engagement months ago and now her younger sister is getting married. She meets an old Yale classmate, Tate Pennington, who seems to revive her spirit.

Both Clio and Smith are at the point in their lives where decisions need to be made, or nothing will ever change. Will Clio be able to trust anyone enough to open up about her past, and will Smith be able to succeed without all her paternal support.

Starting this novel, I thought it would be a more serious read. It wasn’t, but it was a fun look at upperclass Manhattanites and an enjoyable story about 2 women working through their issues and consciously deciding where they want their lives to lead.

Read June 2016.

The Killing Forest

Sara Blaedel’s The Killing Forest is just as dark and thrilling as her other novels. Louise Rick and Camilla Lind usually work from different sides; police vs. journalist, but in this case of a missing boy from Hvalsoe, Camilla ends up finding him deep in the woods and trying to save him.

The truth behind the boys disappearance has ties to Louise’s former boyfriend’s suicide years earlier. Louise encounters the same level of secrecy surrounding what happened the weekend her boyfriend killed him as the boy whose currently missing. Many of same friends/acquaintances seem to be hiding information and theres a dark religion that many follow that encourages their secrecy.

A great mystery! Read June 2016

A Trick of the Light

In Louise Penny’s A Trick of the Light, we are brought back to Three Pines for Chief Inspector Gamache to solve another crime. This time, after Clara Morrow’s opening of her art show, an old rival is found murdered in her garden. All the town are suspects, along with many members of the Montreal art community that came to Three Pines to celebrate with Clara.

Penny dives into the lives of many artists, dealers, and gallery owners in this novel and shows how long some one can harbor resentment. After the woman is identified, it seems almost everyone who knew her had a motive to kill her. She was a beast of a woman for those who knew her 20 years ago, but a kind, generous woman to those who knew her more recently. Can someone change that dramatically? Was the murder revenge for an old wrong, or maybe one a little newer?

Great read. Great characters. In this novel, Gamache and his sidekick Beauvoir are also dealing with the aftermath of a police raid gone horribly wrong. They continue to deal with this in the next couple of Penny novels, and I should try to get the novel when the raid happens in order to help piece all this together.

Read June 2016.

Call Me Princess

Call Me Princess is about the horrors that can be encountered with online dating. Meeting people online allows a certain anonymity that doesn’t usually occur in the real world. Inspector Louise Rick is called out to meet with the victim of a horrific date rape and has to piece together how the rapist met and chose his victim. Based on the evidence, this was a planned attack and Rick needs to determine if there’s been any other victims.

The clock is ticking and another victim is found, worse off than the first victim. Once again, journalist Camilla Lind investigates the crime from a more personal perspective and  gives the victim an outlet for her pain. This time Camilla and Louise’s personal lives are at odds and the tension in their relationship causes a potential gap in catching the criminal.

I really enjoy how Blaedel delves past the basics of a crime and tries to figure out how the criminal and society in general contribute to the problems.

Another good read by Sara Blaedel.

Read June 2016

The Body in the Birches

In The Body in the Birches, Sophie Maxwell returns to her Uncle’s summer house on the coast of Maine. Most of her family is there to fight for their inheritance, as their Uncle Paul will announce who will inherit the home. The island of Sanpere is a little world of its own, with generations of families vacationing near each other. Most know each others secrets, and most agree that having the family vie for their inheritance could only lead to disaster.

While the premise is interesting, as is the basic story, there are many details about this book that made me cringe. Sophie, upon meeting an attractive nephew of Uncle Paul’s, blushes…often. Who writes about women blushing when they see men? Not usually a good mystery writer. Also, Sophie takes over the cooking after their servant dies. So, shocking, she gets the house. There’s lots of other family drama in this book, but it was pretty clear from the second she walked into the house that she should inherit it, as long as everything was right in the world, which it is, even with people dropping dead and attempted murders.

This was a good vacation read because its always interesting to read about how rich people spend their vacations, but this is not a great mystery that dives into corruption or social injustices.

Read June 2016.

Only One Life

Only One Life by Sara Blaedel is not the first, and won’t be the last, Scandinavian novel that dives into Islamic immigration into an insular Scandinavian country. Inspector Louise Rick and journalist Camilla Lind try to determine if the death of a young, Jordanian girl was a honor killing. Members of Samra’s family are evasive and secretive, making it seem as if they may suspect each other of her death. After Samra’s best friend, a young Denmark girl named Dicta is found dead, the hunt for the killer intensifies.

Both Rick and Lind attempt to break the family’s tight circle, again in different ways. Camilla wants to understand how hard it is for a young immigrant to live between 2 cultures and live her own life while trying to please her family. Louise wants to find out why someone would feel the need to kill a young woman for honor.

Blaedel sensitively moves between cultures as the characters investigate these horrific crimes and shows that making assumptions based on stereotypes is not the best way to run a murder inquiry.

After reading, The Forgotten Girls, I had to read another Blaedel novel. Only One Life was written first and Blaedel evolves as a writer, both novels are fantastic.

Read June 2016