Black-Eyed Susans

Julia Heaberlin dives into a dark work with Black-Eyed Susans. At 16, Tess Cartwright was kidnapped and left for dead with several other girls, in a plot of Black-eyed Susan flowers. She’s the only survivor of a serial killer that was caught and now sits on death row.

Or is he? A team working to overturn wrongful convictions in the state with more death row inmates than any other, makes Tessa question if the right man is behind bars. She has no memories of how or when she was taken and how she ended up in a field. What she does have are delusional dreams where the other girls, never identified who she calls the Susans, try to help her navigate her life.

Almost 20 years later with a teenage daughter of her own, Tessa agrees to work with the team reinvestigating her case. The novel goes back and forth in time and just like Tessa, we’re not really sure what happened 20 years ago until the very end.

Gripping story with a surprise character developments.

Read August 2016

The Cinderella Murder

The Cinderella Murder is a joint effort by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke. Unlike Never Tellthis story seems less intellectual and more grocery story best seller list.

A reality TV show digs into cold cases to see if there’s any new information they can dig up. A young woman murdered 20 years ago is the focus of the newest show. A glimpse into internet start-ups and Hollywood’s 2nd rate stars makes this novel feel gimmicky. It was an easy read, but nothing really gripping.

Read August 2016

A Rule Against Murder

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny has Chief Inspector Gamache vacationing at a remote hotel in the Canadian wilderness. Many of the other guests are together for a family reunion of sorts, in a family that seems to not want to talk to each other.

Once again a quaint place in the middle of nowhere is rocked by one of the family member’s murder. And with everyone in the family at odds with each other, everyone is a suspect. The “how” is more complexing than the who since a heavy statue ended up falling on top of the victim.

Read it at the beach in 1 day. Great vacation read!

Read August 2016.


Peter Rock wrote a book about teen rebellion and idealizing an older sibling while incorporating an underworld of teen runaways on the streets of Portland. Klickitat is the street that Ramona Quimby lives on in Beverly Cleary’s world. Its also close to where the sisters Audra and Vivian live and a secret code between them.

Audra is a rebellious teenage runaway that sneaks back home to get her younger sister. They live with a strange man who supposedly has lots of experience living off the grid, but so far they’re petty thieves living under someones home.

The writing is almost lyrical with beautiful sentences and phrases. This help paint a magical setting for the sisters relationship, which is strained by mental disorders and jealousy.

This was a gripping story with unexpected twists.

Read August 2016.

A Grave in the Cotswolds

A natural undertaker agrees to bury a woman in the middle of a field in the Cotswolds. In A Grave in the Cotswolds, Rebecca Tope tells the tale of this small village and the uproar caused by the burial. Afterwards a local councilman is murdered and the undertaker fits the bill for the murdered.

This is a very quaint story about a busybody, house sitter Thea Osborne, and the undertaker Drew Slocombe, team up to find the real murdered before Drew is arrested.

This was a quick, easy, whimsical read. No overwhelming social injustices as play, just an old fashioned murder.

Read August 2016

Siren of the Waters

Michael Genelin’s Siren of the Waters takes the reader across Europe to try to find the murdered of a van full of prostitutes. Commander Jana Matinova investigates with the help of friends around Europe to catch a major criminal. It was an interesting look into how the remnants of communism still linger in the political systems in Slovakia and the story is well told.

While investigating the human trafficking and murders, Matinova is also struggling to reunite with her daughter. In vignettes of the past,we get to witness her relationship with her husband who slowly becomes an enemy of the state. A lie Matinova told to save her daughter pain, is what drove them apart. An incredible sad back story for any person, but especially one who will never have any chance of reconciliation.

Good police novel with many social elements, including a love story brought down by a communist regime.

Read July 2016.

The Brutal Telling

Another great Louise Penny novel. In The Brutal Telling we see a local Three Pine’s resident, Olivier, secretly visiting an old hermit. (Spoilers) It pained Chief Inspector Gamache and Inspector Beauvoir, but all the evidence pointed to their favorite bistro owner and Olivier was arrested and convicted of killing the old man in the woods for his beautiful treasure. I’ve been wanting to read this book, since in many later books this crime is referenced as the reason why Gamache and Olivier have such strained relationship.

The next novel in the series, must pick up with this crime as well, since I know how this story ultimately turns out.

Great story!

Read July 2016