Once Upon A River, by Diane Setterfield
Fiction , Mystery , Women's Fiction / January 14, 2019

This book is fascinating. The type of book that you want to read a second time. Like a river there are so many bends and runs, so many facets. This is a “story of stories” with family love at the center of three distinct families and their potential relationship with a mute girl who turns up in a small town. The characters of the novel are somewhat simple people. Some more or less educated than others. They have challenges and victories and their combined story is so interesting!! Some readers might be a bit impatient with the beginning. Like the headwaters of some rivers, the book starts small and somewhat quiet. Also like a river it is beautiful one minute, cruel the next, and always mysterious. This story will stay with me for a long time. I have no doubt I will reach for it again and enjoy it the second time as much, if not more, than the first.

Broken River by J. Robert Lennon
Fiction , Mystery / May 1, 2018

I just finished Broken River by J. Robert Lennon. The author uses a “POV” called the Observer throughout the novel. Some readers may have a problem with this as the Observer is not human, but instead it is a presence; a watching, moving, learning presence.  Otherwise the book is basically a fast moving, short, well-written crime novel. I liked the insights into human nature and relationships, while not always liking the characters. If you like to be taken aback just a bit by your books then Broken River is for you.

The Advice Column Murders by Leslie Nagel
Advance Reading Copy , Mystery / March 7, 2018

After talking about the subgenre “cozy mystery” with a co-worker I got curious and decided I had to read one.  So when The Advice Column Murders by Leslie Nagel came to my attention as an Advance Reading Copy I requested it immediately.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  I feel it was a great introduction to the format of crime fiction with less emphasis on sex, violence, and gore. Charley Carpenter is the local, small town girl with a sharp mind and a desire to solve crime. She has a great boyfriend, who is on the local police force, and a circle of friends. Charley is in the process of expanding her small business when a young woman is murdered. And this is where all the facts of the weird world come undone.  Good thing we have Charley to figure it out.  A quick, easy read. My first cozy- done! Probably not my last.   I received this as an Advance Reading Copy. Thanks Alibi and Net Galley.

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
Fiction , Mystery , Women's Fiction / February 21, 2018

Years ago a girl was brutally murdered, dismembered, and her head placed in a backpack for unknown reasons. What the reader does know, is that the crime, although solved, is really probably unsolved. That is the beginning of The Chalk Man by new author C.J. Tudor. The novel uses a familiar pattern of past and present to engross the reader in the youth of Ed and his childhood buddies and Ed as a middle aged man still struggling with what happened in his town and a recent piece of mail that includes a stick of chalk. Everyone, I mean everyone, has secrets in this novel. And it is a fast paced, page turner. I am excited for this author, mainly because breaking into the publishing world seems so hard, but also because this is a fascinating trip through the strange and creepy, the horrible and evil, the truth and lies, and of secrets that won’t stay buried.

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

Anne is a young mother who has lived through the suicide of both her parents. Then she receives a note making her think it wasn’t suicide at all. Were her parents really murdered? This book has many twists and turns, great secondary characters, and a plot that picks up speed as it goes, making it hard to put down. My only complaint is a bit of a glum final wrap up for the characters. Otherwise this might be the best novel by Mackintosh. A big Thank You to NetGalley for giving me an Advance Reading Copy.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
Mystery , Women's Fiction / November 3, 2017

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware turned out to be better than I expected. I guess I had let some mediocre reviews cloud my impression before I even started the book.  So the book is about four girls at a boarding school in England and the dark secret that forces them apart and ultimately back together years later. Of course there is plenty of suspense, and the author is skilled at writing characters who are not necessarily honest with us as readers, or even themselves.  There are many themes in the novel- including love, honesty, and loyalty.  I have to say, unlike her previous novel, The Woman in Cabin 10, I feel, in my opinion, this one is focused/marketed to female readers, as it includes a lot of focus on a baby – as the main character Isa has an infant with her most of the story. That being said, the baby does come into play in the plot, and is important in terms of theme. It’s just an opinion and of course others might feel different. Still, I found it quick and satisfying, a good read.

The Late Show by Michael Connelly
Mystery / October 2, 2017

This author has many books in our Mystery Section, so when I saw The Late Show was introducing a new Detective–Renee Ballard,  I decided it was a good time to give him a try. The Late Show refers to the night shift and Renee is stuck there because of past trouble between her and another cop. On the “Late Show” shift she responds to calls but then turns the case over to the day shift.  For me the story started a bit slow. I am a novice in what I think of as “cop stories/mysteries” and I didn’t expect so much police lingo and procedure. As a character Renee seems tough and strong, smart and creative. She does bend the truth just a bit to get things to go her way. The book doesn’t seem action packed, although there are two mysteries running through it. It was easy to follow and I didn’t have to go back to re-read anything because I didn’t understand. Will I read another one? Not right away, but I do expect this book to be in high demand at the library.

The Paris Librarian by Mark Pryor
Mystery / August 8, 2017

The Paris Librarian came into my hands as I was shelving and I immediately thought Paris? Library? Wow, what a great combination! And truthfully, I probably enjoyed the comments about shelving and circulation a bit more than the average person, but hey, I like library stuff. The story is a “Hugo Marston” mystery, the first I’ve read, and I have to say it was a good, straightforward, enjoyable mystery.  Author Mark Pryor throws in some unique characters and writes snappy dialogue. I could follow the plot and nothing about the story came across as too outlandish. Finally, the book was a perfect length in my opinion. There wasn’t a huge, dragging section in the middle, instead it moved along and finished up tres rapide!

Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson
Fiction , Mystery / July 31, 2017

As I read the first few chapters of Before I Go to Sleep I began to get the impression that for me, this felt like an old school horror story, or as if the classic TV show the Twilight Zone had been transfered to print. The story is one of Christine Lucas, a woman with amnesia, and Ben, her husband, and finally Dr. Nash, who is secretly helping Christine, even as he studies her case. I was drawn into the story and kept picking up the book to read what would happen next.  I felt Christine’s emotional struggle, ups and downs, and also her suspicions and justifications.  As a character, Christine is just so vulnerable.  Imagine waking every day with no idea who or where you are?  This is a fantastic debut novel, one that I had no idea about. Apparently it’s even been made into a movie! Who knew! Definitely a novel I recommend.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
Mystery , Women's Fiction / June 29, 2017

Into the Water is the latest novel by Paula Hawkins.  Like her previous best seller, The Girl on the Train, it is a blend of troubled relationships and murder.  The novel starts out fast with Jules Abbott being notified that she needs to return to her hometown as her sister Nel is dead. Seems like Jules would be crushed at this news, but no, she seems angry.  I feel that the relationship between the sisters is the main thread of the story, but honestly it is somewhat hard to tell as we switch into multiple points of view so often. I found this constant changing POV somewhat difficult, although it does serve the purpose of moving the story forward as the characters reveal more and more. As these revelations happened I remember thinking, “What the f@*k?”  Apparently the people in this town have very few good qualities.  Abuse, murder, rape, lies, it’s all there.  And I felt like I needed someone to be decent. In retrospect perhaps the character of Nickie (the dark sheep/town psychic)  gets somewhat close.  I imagine many people reading this book, a lot enjoying it. For me it was kind of like a car accident, I couldn’t look away, but I felt somewhat uncomfortable too.