Following a rough week of traveling for work,
Jemma’s handbag with all her important possessions including her
passport, credit cards, laptop, and house keys is stolen at the airport.
Even more disturbing, when she goes to report the incident,
she realizes she can’t recall her own name. Home and her past no longer
exist in her mind, but the only thing in her pocket is a train ticket
“home.” Jemma is a source of mystery when she arrives at the sleepy
Wiltshire village where she thought she lived
and quickly becomes a cause of fear and curiosity amongst the locals
when no one recognizes her.
Is she a victim or a killer? Where did she come from? All at the same time as she is thinking:
Who are these people? Who am I?
A young woman takes a train home to an English village and finds her house inhabited by the current owners. She cannot remember who she is, relying on their kindness to help her determine what happened, her only memory of the mysterious Fleur. A murderer lived in the house over a decade ago; timing of the murderer’s release and the young woman’s resemblance cast suspicion on her, dividing the owners. The wife leaves town and the husband obsesses over the unknown woman, possibly a murderer. Deception and revenge collide with coincidence and subterfuge, moving toward tragedy, and taking the story to Berlin and a horrific crime. Monroe builds an intriguing world of characters with hidden agendas and convincing personas. Dear reader may not know with whom to empathize as the secrets spill. Layers of the story build with new insights through flashbacks and revelations. This is an excellent look into the psychology of a criminal act and the resulting vigilante justice. I received this provocative novel from Park Row Books through NetGalley.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
J.S. Monroe studied English at Cambridge
University, worked as a freelance journalist in London and was a regular
contributor to BBC Radio 4. He was also a foreign correspondent in
Delhi for the Daily Telegraph and was on
its staff in London as Weekend editor. He is the author of six other
novels and lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their three
introduces low-level, low-brow politician Henry Lewis, who’s
interrupted in his back alley business when his intended victim Davie
is rescued. Allan Linton fell into the PI business after a newspaper
takeover, and he pulled strong, silent street avenger Niddrie in as
his “and Associates.” A mysterious man calling himself Carter
hires them to find a woman in a photograph whose name is likely an
alias. Then dear reader goes through a flashback on the rise and fall
of Allan’s marriage to the daughter of a top dollar barrister, then
back to the present where his daughter asks his help with the
entitled son of her grandfather’s partner and he explains his love
for the Hollies. He seeks help on the case from his best friend
Michael, who just happens to be the main drug dealer in town, and
dear reader goes through another flashback chapter on the origin of
their friendship. There are aliases and backstories galore in this
novel, with each flashback its own fascinating short story. If you
like backstory woven into the fabric of a novel, this format might
confound you. The unusual names and behaviors of the characters make
this whodunwhat feel a bit out of time and place, like a cheeky noir
film. I received a digital copy of this fantastic story from Black &
White Publishing Ltd through NetGalley.
A terrible tragedy unleashes a fateful chain of events for two
families from starkly different worlds in a breathtaking new tale of
suspense that doubles as a razor-sharp take on class conflict in
In his remarkable debut, THE EAST END(Park
Row Books; May 7, 2019; $26.99 U.S./$33.50 CAN.),
novelist Jason Allen constructs a multi-layered story
about the powerful and the powerless, about love and loss, and about
self-destruction and the possibility of redemption. Set in the
Hamptons over one explosive holiday weekend, this immersive must-read
illuminates both sides of the socio-economic divide in a place where
dreams of escape drive potentially catastrophic decisions.
Unfolding from multiple perspectives, THE EAST END opens
with the countdown to Memorial Day underway and recent high school
graduate Corey Halpern in need of a fix. A townie, he burns off
his resentment of the affluent “invaders” who flock to the
community in the summer months by breaking into their lavish mansions
and pulling harmless pranks. Staring down a bleak future, he sees his
hopes of going away to college vanishing. He can’t disappear, not
when his troubled mother, Gina, is barely making ends meet, trying to
get away from an abusive, deadbeat husband, and chasing pills with
too much booze. Trapped in a downward spiral, she staggers towards
rock bottom as Corey and his brother look on helplessly.
Before calling it a night, Corey makes one last stop at the
sprawling lakeside estate where he and Gina work. There he intends to
commit his first-ever robbery but nothing proceeds according to plan.
Married billionaire CEO Leo Sheffield shows up to his ultra-exclusive
Gin Lane property early, accompanied by his handsome, much-younger
lover, Henry. In an instant, everything changes: Drunk, high, and all
alone, Henry is the victim of a fatal poolside accident.
Unfortunately for a distraught Leo, Corey saw what happened—and so
did someone else.
For this immensely privileged man who is not used to getting his
hands dirty, his very existence now depends on containing the
collateral damage. And time is running out. Leo’s overbearing wife
and three grown children will be arriving soon, along with a house
full of high-maintenance guests. Desperate to preserve his fortune
and his freedom, Leo takes irrevocable steps that expose him to
scandal and far worse. Over the next few tension-filled days, hidden
entanglements, unexpected opportunities, and clashing loyalties
propel Corey, Gina, and Leo to extremes—and ultimately, to shocking
outcomes no one will anticipate.
Atmospheric, emotionally probing, and complexly unmissable, this
kaleidoscopic narrative plunges its brilliantly realized characters
into timely, all-too-relatable moral quandaries that defy easy
answers and resound long after the final page.
Corey breaks into the houses of the wealthy who summer in the Hamptons, to play pranks on them as a way to vent his frustrations as a local serving these “invaders.” The night he chooses to enter the home of his mother’s employer Mr. Sheffield, he learns a scandalous secret and witnesses a tragedy, and then he falls in love. The weekend brings a multitude of challenges for the Sheffield family and Corey’s mom, who’s fighting a drug addiction and a violent ex, as well as Corey and his new love. Allen brilliantly portrays the blurred lines of integrity and honesty for the haves and have-nots in a scenario that flips dependency from one to the other and exposes everyone’s agenda. No character is truly endearing, nor is any character wholly evil, but all are complex, self-serving and compassionate in turn. Fans of “Somethings in the Water,” “Beautiful Bad,” or “Hunting Annabelle” will appreciate this story. It’s a peek at what we might do if we had the chance, and what happens when we involve ourselves in something that’s not our business. I received a digital copy of this fantastic story from Park Row Books through NetGalley.
Jason Allen grew up in a working-class home in the
Hamptons, where he worked a variety of blue-collar jobs for wealthy
estate owners. He writes fiction, poetry, and memoir, and is the
author of the poetry collection A Meditation on Fire. He has
an MFA from Pacific University and a PhD in literature and creative
writing from Binghamton University. He currently lives in Atlanta,
Georgia, where he teaches writing. THE EAST END is his first
Maddie fell hard for Ian, British security detail, when she taught
English in Bulgaria and her BFF Joanna was a humanitarian working in
Macedonia before and during their civil war. He’s hard to pin down,
even after she marries him despite Joanna’s inexplicable hostility
toward him. He insists on moving from NYC to her small, Kansas
hometown, though he spends much of his time in the Eastern bloc,
working in a security business he started with his brother after
leaving his government position. The story unfolds in layers as it
goes back and forth in time and around the globe to explain the
horrible murder. Ward does an excellent job evoking sympathy for
Maddie, who appears to be on the receiving end of Ian’s PTSD. This
novel portrays young American idealists who get caught up in tragedy,
differences in maturity levels of best friends, and how lack of
self-awareness contributes to obfuscation, as a mismatched romance
leads to its horrifying conclusion. I was fortunate to receive this
brilliant story from the publisher Park Row Books through NetGalley.
Liza witnesses, via
Skype, a masked man entering her friend’s home while her friend is
upstairs tending to a child. She drives all night to make sure she’s
okay after her friend doesn’t answer the phone, but Molly, the
friend, dismisses the idea that a man came into her house, and she
break’s Liza’s heart. Returning home to a life-changing event
sends Liza back to her hometown, where no investigation is proceeding
for the mystery man. Strawser digs deep into the fears of a married
couple in multitudes of trouble, the evolution of friendship, and a
reluctant return to one’s roots. She brilliantly intertwines the
consequences of the characters’ actions as they rush headlong into
premature conclusions. This novel is a great look into love
resurrected and the ability to access romantic love after a trauma.
Strawser is a talented storyteller. I was fortunate to receive a copy
of this wonderful book from the publisher Macmillan through
PI Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott share a moment right after her
vows to Matthew, coloring their detective partnership. A disturbed
young man caroms into Strike’s office to exclaim about a child
murder committed decades ago. Being hired by a politician to spy on a
colleague distracts them, but the possibility weighs on Cormoran’s
mind, as Robin goes undercover in Parliament. The non-case of the
wild story becomes entangled within the political investigation and a
dubious suicide. Meanwhile, Robin’s husband shows his true colors,
but her desire to be independent only prolongs the sexual tension
Galbraith keeps a fast, at times frenetic, pace throughout the story, with the main characters exasperatingly and credibly human in their complexity. It’s fun to see inside the heads of the good guys when they have fleeting thoughts that are unrealistic / unreasonable, such as when Robin finds herself drawn in by the charm of their client’s tall, dark, and handsome “bad boy” son, a person of interest. Fourth in the Cormoran Strike series, it’s easily a standalone for the case story, but adds layers of nuance to the partnership. The inevitable transition in the nature of the relationship will change the dynamics and sadly may be the beginning of the end, unless Galbraith finds a way to pull it off. Let’s hope she…whoops, “he” can do so!
I received a copy of
this latest release in the series from St. Martin’s Press for an
Matthew Cave is
assigned to report on a mummy suspected to be the first Viking found
in Greenland. After the mummy disappears, and the police officer
guarding it killed in a most horrific manner, Matthew investigates a
story decades old based on the similar style of murder of four local
men. The tale grows exponentially as he learns about the murders’
connections to child molestation, kidnapping, politics, and a
mysterious, tattooed woman just released from prison. Secrets are
revealed, crimes are solved, and living / dead are confirmed.
Nordbo writes a
graphic, bones-laid-bare crime novel with the setting of Nuuk,
Greenland as prominent as a main character. The Danish / Greenlandic
tension is pushed and pulled throughout the story, with national
politics and corruption affecting local affairs. Twists and turns
abound as new evidence surfaces, but the main source of a policeman’s
journal written during the earlier crimes takes the reader back in
time for a more intimate feel. A major information dump at the end
does its best to feel natural, coming from the appropriate
characters. In any case, the tale is multi-layered, with storylines
that converge for a revelatory denouement. I was fortunate to receive
a digital copy from Text Publishing Company through NetGalley.
In Brazil, Nazi fugitive Klaus Holland, aka Matheus Esperanca, raises his son by a prostitute with a Jewish kapo from Udenspul, the concentration camp he commanded. The son, Deus, considers the kapo his mother, and after her death, takes mysterious photos from her to a professor in his US university to research his ancestry, where he learns the true identity of his father and the extent of his crimes. Olokita brilliantly uses the concept of god as a measurement of morality, or rather lack of humanity, as Klaus plays God in determining who dies, though his own religious beliefs remain deliciously ambiguous. The character development is so well done that dear reader will be researching names. Although written in third person for everyone else, Klaus is in first person, bringing the reader up close and personal to a man with his own version of right and wrong based on his complete lack of empathy, exploring the idea of how powerful he believes himself. The ending revelation is quite coincidental and is evidenced only by Klaus’ perception, so it’s not clear why it’s readily believed by Deus and his new love Heidi. It’s anti-climactic after the delightful irony of Klaus’ downfall. With so many rumors, legends, and news items, inspiring a plethora of literature, on the Holocaust, this unique story of a fugitive hiding out in South America is a definite must-read. It’s themes rove beyond the simple good vs. evil and the idea that one can distinguish such traits in anyone, with characters revealing the dangers within themselves. I received a digital copy of this fantastic novel from the author for an honest review.
Anna finds a teenage girl’s body on the beach in Lithuania while on a business trip to her textile factory. Prevented from leaving by a natural disaster, she meets a journalist named Will, who moves into her carefully constructed life. He and her friends warn her against pursuing the girl’s murder, but her own past urges her on, until she finds herself in danger, and Will is incommunicado. Beard portrays a workaholic with repressed emotions and memories vividly, though Anna seems to throw up a lot and has quite a few anxiety attacks, not to mention the breakdown from grief. The story seems as self-oriented as Anna, focusing on her distress throughout, when it could have explored the horrors of sex trafficking further. Even as Anna is justified in her wavering faith in Will, his character is not developed enough for the reader to make a judgment call either way. Though the story is a good one, it could have given a little more weight toward other characters, and even considered location a main character in its cultural presence, but Anna simply comes across as too neurotic to notice anything else. I was graciously given a digital copy by the publisher through NetGalley.
Grace Dalton watched her husband die after being struck in a hit and run accident. After a brief period of submerging herself in the grief, she begins to move on, speaking with his lawyer to learn of a secret bank account and life insurance. Then she sees her husband, sending her best friend into conniptions for some reason, and she ends up in several bizarre emergency sessions with her psychiatrist. Much of this story, once you get past the repetition (and the repetition continues throughout the book), lacks credibility, such as Grace’s phone sessions with her psychiatrist, and then her best friend dragging her to so many emergency sessions instead of listening to Grace. Her best friend comes across as more like a mean sister, making the ending even less likely. This story had such potential, and then Grace ended up being more crotchety than the damsel in distress. The reader does not need reminding in every chapter that Grace wallowed in her grief for six weeks. The story is in there if you want to earn it! I was graciously given an early copy by Bookouture through NetGalley.