Elin Hilderbrand divides her signature Nantucket setting with Martha's Vineyard in her latest paperback, just as identical twins Harper and Tabitha Frost divide the islands, each girl living on a different island with a different parent.
Harper, wild and always in trouble, "won" their father, Billy, and Martha's Vineyard in a rock-paper-scissors shoot out with Tabitha, who "lost", and was consigned to life with their famous clothing designer mother, Eleanor, on Nantucket after their parents divorced.
But now the girls are grown and Billy has died, leaving Harper bereft, unable to hold down a job and the talk of the island for her latest romantic scandal.
Tabitha, on the other hand, is miserable managing her mother's signature Nantucket boutique and raising Ainsley, her 16 year old daughter who is in full-on rebellion mode.
The twins haven't spoken for over 14 years, so they are cold comfort for each other. But they decide to switch islands - and lives - for the summer to try to save what little they think they have left.
The Identicals is classic Hilderbrand - full of summer season on the islands, people of privilege and "normal" year-rounders, romance, troubles, and, ultimately, a satisfying conclusion. It's no wonder her books are a summer tradition for so many readers.
John Marks' northern Michigan mystery reminded me of the work of Aaron Stander and Robert Wangard, and is a worthy entry into the mix.
The action takes place in Traverse City where Leo, Joe, and Craig are students at the fictional Grand Traverse Law School. Leo has a serious gambling problem, and his father, a man with shady business interests in Chicago, hires ex-trooper Harlan Holmes to keep a close watch on his errant son.
Unfortunately, Leo ends up in Grand Traverse Bay after a big gamble didn't pay off for him.
When Leo's dad and his "associates" come north to avenge his son's murder, he puts the blame squarely on Harlan and his failed surveillance.
The novel follows Harlan's attempt to find the murderer and keep everyone else out of harm's way.
This was a fun read with a familiar setting and a main character I grew to like and hope to see again in future novels from debut author John Marks.
This is the kind of book I never want to end - smart, witty, and peopled with characters I wouldn't mind knowing.
David has a killer deal on a carriage house rental in obscenely expensive San Francisco. He runs a college counseling service out of his apartment.
When his ex-wife Julia's daughter Mandy contacts him about helping her prepare for applications, David makes a spur-of-the-moment cross-country trip to a quaint Massachusetts Lobster-ing town where Mandy and her mom are eking out a living Air BnB-ing rooms in their down at the heel Victorian Mansion.
His short visit becomes a month, then seven weeks, and soon David is embroiled in Julie's quest to save the house and her daughter from Julie's other ex, Henry.
This is a novel about love and family, quirky friendships, and our ability to be the right person at the right time. One reviewer said "If I were the kind of reader who highlighted brilliant passages, the entire book would be underlined."
Don't let this gem escape your notice.
In this clever psychological thriller, the narrator appears to be an obsessed ex-wife who can't get past the fact that her ex-husband is getting remarried. And, because you've assumed that, you take sides. But, as in real life and love, assumptions are dangerous.
This novel has made a splash, and rightly so. Two thumbs up in the psychological thriller genre.
Newlyweds Natalie and Doug Larson have taken an isolated back-country trip in the Adirondacks for their honeymoon.
Things quickly begin to go wrong on their route and six million acres separate them from civilization.
Lost and desperate, the couple are about to face even more trouble as a man watches them from the woods - a man with no intention of allowing the couple to find their way out.
This chilling thriller races along, making you glad to be reading in the comfort of your own house and nowhere near the vast, scary wilderness that Milchman conjures so well.
Cameron Harris is a paraplegic Afghanistan War vet, back home in Mississippi living with his sister Tanya. Life has been rough for Cameron - his father left early on and his mother died when Cameron was in high school. Unable to cope, Cameron dropped out of a promising football program, worked construction - even on their own Katrina-ravaged house - until one day Cameron left Tanya and Mississippi and enlisted.
But now he's home, pounding back beer and chain-smoking, letting Tanya push him to the convenience store on the corner in the afternoon.
Until, one day, Cameron stands up and walks - right in that convenience store parking lot.
Cameron finds himself in the middle of a media storm about his miracle. Tour buses of believers start to show up at the BIZ-E-BEE and the doctors at the VA clinic scramble for an explanation at the same time the catholic church sends an investigator and reality TV sends a film crew.
Cleverly written as if this were a non-fiction book exploring the inexplicable story of Cameron's recovery, Anatomy of a Miracle takes the reader down a dizzying number of paths to the basic truth that 'some things just happen'.
Different and intriguing.
Dennis Lehane proved long ago that he's a master storyteller with a gift for tension and psychological suspense. His new novel, Since We Fell, is among his best.
Rachel Childs is a gifted reporter who has long been searching for her biological father. She has an "it couple" marriage and an up and coming network career to go along with her fashionable series about her upbringing.
100 pages into this story, I was hooked on her character, but wondering why Lehane was writing a book about a woman whose career and marriage implodes and who becomes a virtual shut-in after an on-air meltdown.
150 pages in, the novel took a turn when Rachel ventures out, only to see her husband, who should be halfway across the Atlantic, getting into the back of a dark SUV.
By page 225 the story explodes. Rachel's second husband has a lot of secrets, and they are all deadly ones.
The action and tension build page by page from there. The fact that Lehane so calmly laid the groundwork for his story, only gradually adding discordant notes until, abruptly, you realize you're reading an entirely different story than you thought you were is just masterful - conceived and executed like no other thriller I've read.
Reviewers and fellow writers alike are bowing down before this book. Wow.
Author Karen Cleveland was a CIA employee and spent six months on rotation to the FBI, working closely with a Joint Terrorism Task Force, so when her character Vivian, a CIA analyst, gets herself into trouble, we get the sense that this is a plausible scenario.
Vivian has written a program to try to predict people who might be Russian sleeper agents - US citizens living normal lives, but in reality are Russian agents feeding information back through a handler. One day Vivian's program strikes gold and she's gained entry into a suspect's computer. Everything looks innocuous enough, but when she clicks on a folder labeled 'friends', five photos show up. And five, she's learned, is the number of sleeper agents in each cell.
She can hardly believe her luck as she clicks through the pictures until one stops her cold. The face she's looking at is that of her beloved husband and father of her four precious children.
Instantly, Vivian's life becomes a nightmare and we're taken on that nightmare with her right up to the final twist of the knife.
Bestseller Lee Child says "Prediction: if you read chapter one, you'll read chapter two. If you read chapter two, you'll miss dinner, stay up far too late, and feel tired at work tomorrow. This is that kind of book. Superb."
After reading A Mind At Play, the biography of Claude Shannon, Gaylord's most famous native son, I found myself wondering several things:
- How did I, who have lived in Gaylord over 20 years, know so little about the genius who reduced communication theory to an essence of ones and zeros - essentially inventing binary code?
- Why did my children, who attended school here, not learn about this man's accomplishments in depth?
- Why doesn't our high school, which boasts Shannon's mother as a former principal and Claude himself - a man with so many honorary doctorate degrees he built a revolving rack upon which to hang his stoles - have Claude Shannon competitions, celebrating the fact that this graduate explored, among so many other things, juggling, cryptography, robotics, and chess - tinkering and building contraptions to solve problems large and small throughout his life?
- And why do mathematicians, engineers, and scientists the world over revere this native son when we here have scant knowledge of his life and accomplishments?
A Mind At Play celebrates the spirit of curiosity which took Shannon from Gaylord to U of M to the hallowed halls of academia to the famously productive Bell Labs to MIT. While giving chapters to the mathematical and scientific accomplishments of this acknowledged genius, the authors continue to point out that Shannon had a real spirit of fun driving his theoretical discoveries, and that to the end he remained a humble man of humble origins - right here in Gaylord, MI.
Conman turned lawyer Eddie Flynn is back in this twisty legal thriller.
Eddie's estranged wife, Caroline, has unwittingly signed papers at her high-powered Manhattan law firm that could send her to prison for a long while. Eddie learns this when he arrives at his office to find it full of government agents who have a deal he can't refuse. Eddie has just hours to get a prominent tech billionaire just arrested for murdering his girlfriend to hire Eddie as his defense lawyer and take a plea deal. If he can swing that, Eddie is told, the FBI can use the tech wizard to turn on the corrupt law firm, and Eddie's wife will get immunity from the blood bath to follow.
Well! Easier said than done, obviously, and of course our man doesn't quite have all the facts here.
Full of slick legal maneuvering, corrupt attorneys, ruthless government agents and a quirky sense of humor, The Plea is a seriously entertaining read.