In Lori Rader-Day’s Little Pretty Things, we explore the high school friendship of Juliet and Maddy. While they were the closest friends in high school, Maddy came in first in every track race they ever ran together, until suddenly they stopped running and stopped being friends. 10 years have past since they’ve seen each other and we meet Juliet in a dumpy motel on the outskirts of their hometown. She dropped out of college when her father died and she seemed to have lost all her drive and ended up in this dead end job. When in walks Maddy, beautiful, wealthy, and makes Juliet question all of her life’s choices up to this point. She sees in Maddy what she could have had, and once again she’s in second place to Maddy.
Or is she? Maddy is found murdered at the motel and Juliet is intent of finding who killed her former best friend. Juliet ends up tangled in a web of deceit that makes her realize that coming in 2nd place might be the better spot to have ended up. The entire town’s facade is ripped off as Juliet and Courtney, an investigating officer and classmate of Juliet and Maddy’s, uncover abuse that the town has been living with for decades.
A compelling read and a cautionary tale for teenage girls looking to find their way in this world on their own.
Read July 2017
While False Tongues is listed as a “Callie Anson” mystery, Callie isn’t embroiled in a mystery. While she’s away dealing with her school friends, including her ex-boyfriend who dumped her and immediately married another woman, a young boy is murdered. The mystery of his death never touches Callie, but her new boyfriend deals with his family as his role in the police.
Callie and her dealings with her ex, aren’t very exciting or noteworthy, other than she is now officially over him. While back at school, her Principal, Margaret Phillips also must deal with her past before moving on. While thematically similar to each other, neither story comes close to the story about the murder.
I don’t know if its just my preference of storyline, but the whole Callie Anson part of this mystery wasn’t interesting and took away from the storyline of the murder and uncovering the secrets teenagers have. If Callie had been at home, and had dealt with the family or police officers in the murder investigation, then maybe this would be a more interesting book. As is, I didn’t like the parallel unrelated stories.
Read April 2017
Clea Simon’s Code Grey started odd and didn’t get any better. Dulcie Swartz is a grad student trying to work on her thesis over spring break while the campus is empty. Unfortunately the school’s renovation and the death of a former student of the university has her trying to figure out a decades old case of missing books. In the process, Dulcie talks to her cat, and it responds, and she sees signs and visions from her dead cat. This was a bit too eccentric for my mystery loving habit and I was turned off by it. Also, when Dulcie’s boyfriend, who went home for the week, scolds her for walking around by herself at night, the feminist in me was triggered and I questioned every interaction afterward, never veering from my anti-boyfriend stance.
I thought Code Grey would be a different type of mystery. It was, but not in a way I enjoyed.
Read February 2017
Elizabeth George’s A Banquet of Consequences deals with a family led by matriarch Caroline Goldacre. Inspector Lynley is talked into investigating a suspicious death by his partner Barbara Havers, who is currently on probation for some non-orthodox investigation methods.
Clare Abbott is a well-renowned feminist writing making the literary circuit when she is found dead in her hotel room. Her assistant, Caroline Goldacre, had access to the room and was heard arguing with her the night before her body was found. Clare’s editor, Rory Stratham, also a dear friend of Clare, convinces Havers that the death is not natural and a second autopsy is requested.
George delves into Caroline’s family history which is filled with tragedy and lies. Caroline’s relationship with her sons, one now deceased, and the women in their lives is bizarre and unnerving. Could she be lying now to cover up a murder, or is lying so second nature to her that its hard to tell the truth from lies anymore. Havers and Lynley investigate to find whatever truth they’re able to find.
The truth is more horrific than what I originally thought and the ending is superb. Not what I expected, for sure.
Read September 2016
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
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.
Sara Blaedel’s The Forgotten Girls is a perfect example of Scandinavian mysteries. Its a stark setting, with overworked and dedicated police officers, dealing with a social injustice that penetrates Denmark’s society.
The Forgotten Girls were institutionalized during a time when family kept mental illness a secret. They truly were forgotten until one ends up dead in a forest more than 30 years after her death certificate was signed.
Blaedel’s Inspector Louise Rick and journalist Camilla Lind dive into a defunct mental institution to try to find the identity of a women found dead. The different interests of the two friends come at the mystery with different intentions, but both have the same goal of helping.
This was a great read with a disturbing and horrific ending.
Read June 2016.