Interestingly, first-time author Emma Flint has been fascinated by true-crime accounts since childhood, and reportedly has an encyclopedic knowledge of real-life murder cases, and Little Deaths is based on a real murder.
Ruth Malone is separated from her husband, working as a cocktail waitress and raising two little kids in Queens. She's a party girl whose good looks attract a lot of men, so she's getting by with the help of men who give her money and gifts.
And then one morning Ruth unlocks her children's bedroom door and finds them gone. Their little bodies are found over the next few days.
The police take one look at Ruth's provocative wardrobe and trash can full of liquor bottles and leap to obvious, bad conclusions.
One newspaperman, Pete Wonicke, begins by hanging around for the story and eventually becomes obsessed by Ruth herself and will resort to drastic measures to prevent her from being convicted for her childrens' deaths.
Emma Flint has given us a solid, page-turning mystery with a lot of reasonable doubt about all of the characters in her crime-fiction debut, Little Deaths. Fans of the genre will love this.
Linda Castillo's latest Kate Burkholder mystery finds Kate alerted to the fact that a childhood friend, Joseph King, has escaped from prison where he was serving a life sentence for killing his wife. What's more, King's children now live with their aunt and uncle in Painters Mill, where Kate is the police chief, and she's worried he might show up on her turf.
He does, and all hell breaks loose. Soon, Kate finds herself having to choose to believe in the justice system and Joseph's conviction, or try to track down the roots of his cold case, because Joseph insists he's been framed.
As in all Castillo novels, Kate's Amish roots play a large role in the story. And this time her unique perspective may be the one thing that allows her to get to the truth.
Down a Dark Road is another solid mystery by an author with a huge number of fans around here, and I know they'll eat this one up!
The subtitle says it all here. In this collection of essays, Bailey discusses everything from kissing to Nutella to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, and while there doesn’t seem to be a common thread in the book, taken as a whole, American English, Italian Chocolate forms a memoir of sorts.
We follow the author from southern Michigan to northern Italy as Bailey, an English professor at Henry Ford College, unspools his life with wit and a keen eye for the ridiculous that unites us all.
Bailey will be visiting Saturn this Saturday for a Sit’n’Sign event - and he’ll be bringing chocolate! Click here for more information.
The author of this spy thriller is a former Brigadier General of Intelligence in the Israeli Army, so he has quite a bit of insight into his subject here.
His subject is a deep cover operative of Mossad - Rachel, who volunteered to live in the enemy's capital city as an English teacher. She is so integrated into the community that even her Arab boyfriend, about whom her handler, Ehud, barely knows, has no idea that their romantic excursions are actually scouting and intelligence expeditions.
But eventually, of course, Rachel is extracted and has to leave that world behind with no explanations or goodbyes.
And now, many years later, Rachel has disappeared and it’s up to Ehud to find her before Mossad decides a Rachel in hiding is a dangerous Rachel.
This book is very much about the psychology of covert agents - about the contacts they can trust and the secrets they will always choose to keep. It's about the freedom that they must be given to live a lie and the wariness with which they are viewed precisely because of the lie.
Fans of Jason Mathews or early Forsyth will be sucked right into this very true-feeling novel.
Much like Dan Brown took inspiration from the mysteries of da Vinci, Augustus Rose gave us this riff on the works of Marcel Duchamp. Like Brown, Rose has imagined a conspiracy decades in the making involving an important puzzle piece in the workings of the world.
But Rose has given us a much more contemporary novel - with a gritty young protagonist, the dark net, and even urban exploration in a novel that manages to make the unbelievable plausible.
Based on intensive research into Duchamp's life and unified theory, The Ready-Made Thief makes use of a fact-is-stranger than fiction setting - an abandoned missile silo turned drug lab/rave venue.
It's hard to categorize this one - it's not quite mystery or fantasy, but it is a good compulsive read from first page to last!
This final Tudor novel is told in the voices of the Grey sisters - Jane, who was Queen of England for a mere nine days, her younger sister Katherine, and their beautiful but diminutive sister Mary.
Theirs is not a happy story. Crowned instead of the dead queen's half sister Mary Tudor, Jane was quickly displaced, sent to the tower and beheaded.
Katherine, a giddy young beauty at court, is the next heir in line for Queen Elizabeth's throne, but Elizabeth is loathe to name an heir because that heir might prove more popular than she is herself, so when Katherine secretly marries for love, Elizabeth uses that offence to imprison yet another of her cousins.
Even while Protestants across the country are calling for Elizabeth to name Katherine the heir and to free her and her young family, little Mary, who no one assumed could attract a husband, also marries for love and finds herself the object of her cousin the Queen's wrath as well.
Full of trademark Gregory scandal, intrigue and wit, The Last Tudor is a very satisfying read.
John Boyne is best known for his blockbuster, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and in The Heart’s Invisible Furies, Boyne once again delivers a masterful novel that will be hard to forget.
Cyril Avery was adopted as a baby by Maude and Charles Avery - an odd couple who seemed to barely realize he was there. Charles was busy making money, cheating the taxman, and chasing women all over Dublin. Maude stayed holed up in her study, furiously smoking cigarettes and writing her soon-to-be legendary novels.
So when Cyril first met Julian Woodhead, he was enthralled. And when, several years later, Julian became Cyril’s boarding school roommate, it seemed all of Cyril’s lonely boyhood dreams had come true.
The novel follows the meandering course of Cyril’s life - from his childhood in Ireland, to his young adulthood in Amsterdam, to New York City and eventually back home to Ireland in a novel full of both pathos and surprising wit and humor.
Boyne, who some say is Ireland’s best living novelist, has created an epic story that manages to encompass all of the sadness, irony, and unexpected joy of men and women just trying their best to live their lives.
I laughed, I cried, I raced through this book, pausing only to be amazed at John Boyne’s talent.
We know Tom Stanton as a baseball writer - from Final Season to The Road to Coopersown to Ty & The Babe, Tom has chronicled many aspects of the game he loves.
But in Terror in the City of Champions, Stanton uses baseball - and all sports, as a counter to the very serious topic he's undertaken - the Black Legion, a secret Klan-like organization whose members permeated government, law & order and neighborhoods all over Detroit in the 1930s.
In 1935, Detroit really was the City of Champions - the Tigers won the World Series, the Lions won the NFL title and the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup. Not to mention the impending world championship of Detroiter Joe Lewis.
But bubbling below the excitement was murder, flogging, fire bombings, and plots by a group whose very mention made people tremble because of its seeming omnipotence. It couldn't be investigated because policemen were members. No one was brought to trial because judges and the prosecutor belonged. No one could quit because they were threatened with death for trying.
It's almost unbelievable that this is non-fiction. I'd never even heard of the Black Legion, the group once described as making 'the Klan look like a Cream Puff.'
Stanton does a good job of counter-balancing excitement with fear, and of implicating public figures of whom you definitely have heard in a real life group so implausible it reads like fiction.
Whether you are a history buff, a fan of the city of Detroit or a sports fan of any stripe, you're sure to be fascinated by Terror in the City of Champions.
I read Marlena because the author, Julie Buntin, grew up in Petoskey and set her book right here in northern Michigan.
Marlena is the story of two teenaged girls living hardscrabble lives. It is narrated by Cat, whose parents' divorce forced her mother to take Cat out of her private downstate high school and move with Cat and her older brother to a modular home in a resort town on Lake Michigan where the year-round population was generally impoverished.
Cat's first friend there is their neighbor Marlena - a girl a few years older who lived with her meth-cooking father and her often-alone younger brother. Marlena represented everything Cat had never been - an adventurous, daring, rule-breaking girl who was no stranger to drugs and the many ways to procure them. It didn't take long for the younger, angry-at-the-world Cat to fall under charismatic Marlena's spell and adopt her risk-taking ways.
The reader knows from the outset that there is no happy ending here - Cat, the narrator, still seems profoundly damaged in her 30s and Marlena has died.
This book reminded me of Mulhauser's Sweetgirl in its look behind the curtain at the way families in our own community struggle every day. With a setting so close to home, the message that the choices we make or let our children make can have profound consequences hits particularly hard.
This is a tough book to read, but precisely because it feels so very real - a great accomplishment for a debut novelist.
I'd staff picked Lupton's first mystery, Sister, and so I was anxious to read this one, her latest.
In Sister, a young woman flies home to London because her younger sister goes missing and she's unwilling to admit that she might be dead.
In Quality of Silence, Lupton takes a similar theme and creates a vastly different story.
Matt, a wildlife photographer, has been in Alaska, and the last time he called her, he and Yasmin fought. Yasmin and their deaf daughter, Ruby, fly to Alaska to surprise him. But they are the ones in for a surprise- they are met at the airport with the news that the village where Matt was staying had burned to the ground, and as his phone and wedding ring had been found among the ashes, he was presumed to be among the dead.
Unwilling to accept that Matt was dead, Yasmin and Ruby commandeer a huge truck and set out against avalanches, an impending blizzard, an unknown pursuer and all odds, across Alaska's treacherous Ice Road.
Part adventure story, part family story and part thriller, The Quality of Silence was a first rate read.