cat out of hellFor people who both love and hate cats comes the tale of Alec Charlesworth, a librarian who finds himself suddenly alone: he’s lost his job, his beloved wife has just died, and to top it all off, his sister has disappeared. Overcome by grief, he stands in his sister’s kitchen staring at the only witness to what’s happened to her – her cat, Roger. Who then speaks to him.

It takes a while for Alec to realize he’s not gone mad from grief, that the cat is actually speaking . . . and that much of what we fear about cats is true. They do think they’re smarter than humans, for one thing. And, well, it seems they are! What’s more, they do have nine lives. Or at least this one does – Roger’s older than Methuselah, and his unblinking stare comes from the fact that he’s seen it all.

And in Cat Out of Hell he’s got a tale to tell, a tale of shocking local history and dark forces that may link not only the death of Alec’s wife, but also several other local deaths. But will the cat help Alec, or is he one of the dark forces? (description from publisher)

pocket wifeDana Catrell’s life is in chaos. She’s married to a lawyer who makes her feel trivial, as if stuck inside his pocket like loose change. She’s also sliding toward the brink of insanity. Devastated by mania, part of her bipolar disorder, Dana finds that there are troubling holes in her memory, including what happened on the afternoon of her friend Celia’s death. She’s horrified to learn she’s the only other person with a key to Celia’s house – and the last person to see her alive. She and Celia had shared recipes and gossip. But not secrets – until that final afternoon. Closing her eyes, Dana can see images, loose pieces of a hazy puzzle. Sangria in a glass, a tiny rip in Celia’s screen door, Celia lying in a pool of blood, the broken vase beside her head, the kitchen knife just so above her hand. But there are infuriating, terrifying gaps. Is murder on her mind–or is it all in her head?

 

As evidence starts to point in her direction, Dana will use the clarity her mania brings her to fill in the blanks and clear her name before her demons win out. But her husband’s odd behavior and the persistent probing of Detective Jack Moss complicate Dana’s search for answers. The closer she comes to piecing together shards of her broken memory, the closer Dana comes to falling apart. Is there a killer lurking inside her . . . or is there one out there in the shadows of reality, waiting to strike again?

 

A story of marriage, murder, and madness, The Pocket Wife is a sophisticated, gripping tale of psychological suspense that explores the world through the foggy lens of a woman on the edge. (description from publisher)

bishops wifeInspired by an actual crime and written by a practicing Mormon, The Bishop’s Wife is both a fascinating look at the lives of modern Mormons as well as a grim and cunningly twisted mystery.

Linda Wallheim is the mother of five grown boys and the wife of a Mormon bishop. As bishop, Kurt Wallheim is the ward’s designated spiritual father, and that makes Linda the ward’s unofficial mother, and her days are filled with comfort visits, community service, and informal counseling. But Linda is increasingly troubled by the church’s patriarchal structure and secrecy, especially as a disturbing situation takes shape in the ward.

One cold winter morning, a neighbor, Jared Helm, appears on the Wallheims’ doorstep with his 5-year-old daughter, claiming that his wife, Carrie, disappeared in the middle of the night, leaving behind everything she owns. The circumstances surrounding Carrie’s disappearance become more suspicious the more Linda learns about them, and she becomes convinced that Jared has murdered his wife and painted himself as an abandoned husband. Kurt asks Linda not to get involved in the unfolding family saga, but she has become obsessed with Carrie’s fate, and with the well-being of her vulnerable young daughter. She cannot let the matter rest until she finds out the truth. Is she wrong to go against her husband, the bishop, when her inner convictions are so strong? (description by publisher)

jane and the 12 days of christmasChristmas Eve, 1814: Jane Austen has been invited to spend the holiday with family and friends at The Vyne, the gorgeous ancestral home of the wealthy and politically prominent Chute family. As the year fades and friends begin to gather beneath the mistletoe for the twelve days of Christmas festivities, Jane and her circle are in a celebratory mood: Mansfield Park is selling nicely; Napoleon has been banished to Elba; British forces have seized Washington, DC; and on Christmas Eve, John Quincy Adams signs the Treaty of Ghent, which will end a war nobody in England really wanted.

Jane, however, discovers holiday cheer is fleeting. One of the Yuletide revelers dies in a tragic accident, which Jane immediately views with suspicion. If the accident was in fact murder, the killer is one of Jane’s fellow snow-bound guests. With clues scattered amidst cleverly crafted charades, dark secrets coming to light during parlor games, and old friendships returning to haunt the Christmas parties, whom can Jane trust to help her discover the truth and stop the killer from striking again? (description from publisher)

forgerThe rare book world is stunned when a reclusive collector, Adam Diehl, is found on the floor of his Montauk home: hands severed, surrounded by valuable inscribed books and original manuscripts that have been vandalized beyond repair. Adam’s sister, Meghan, and her lover, Will – a convicted if unrepentant literary forger – struggle to come to terms with the seemingly incomprehensible murder. But when Will begins receiving threatening handwritten letters, seemingly penned by long-dead authors, but really from someone who knows secrets about Adam’s death and Will’s past, he understands his own life is also on the line and attempts to forge a new beginning for himself and Meg.

In The Forgers, Morrow reveals the passion that drives collectors to the razor-sharp edge of morality, brilliantly confronting the hubris and mortal danger of rewriting history with a fraudulent pen. (description by publisher)

broadchurchWhen the body of eleven-year-old Danny Latimer is found on the beach in Broadchurch, Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) and her newly-appointed boss, Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (David Tennant) are called to investigate. As suspicions mount and the mystery deepens, a national spotlight descends upon Broadchurch, threatening to pull the town, it’s residents and their secrets apart. (description from publisher)

Originally aired on BBC America this past spring, Broadchurch became an almost immediate cult favorite. Highlighted by exceptional acting (from entire cast but especially Tennant and Colman), suspenseful writing and realistic, gritty settings, the series kept fans on the edge of their seat from beginning to end. More than a simple murder mystery, Broadchurch examines the ties that bind us and sometimes break us – family, community, friends. Where does loyalty to one destroy our loyalty to another?

Broadchurch was so well received that an American version (also starring David Tennant) airs on FOX beginning October 2nd under the title Gracepoint. A second season of Broadchurch (with the original cast) has begun filming and will air on BBC America next year.

burial ritesA brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, Burial Rites evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others? (description from publisher)

I recently listened to the audiobook version of Irish author Tana French’s debut mystery, In The Woods.  French thrusts the reader into a dual storyline – one past and one present – both inextricably linked by one man, Inspector Rob Ryan of the Dublin Murder Squad.  Twenty years before, Rob and his two young school chums made headlines when all three disappeared and Rob was later found alone exiting the woods without any recollection of what had happened to his friends –  the case has remained unsolved. 

In the current case, Rob and his partner Cassie Maddox are assigned to a case involving the murder of a young ballet dancer, Katy Develin – a crime that was committed in the exact same spot as Detective Ryan’s incident twenty years prior (he changed his name from Adam Ryan due to the publicity of his case).  Katy’s family begins to exhibit odd and baffling behavior and it peaks the interest of the detectives.  Ryan and Maddox realize that someone close to the victim may be involved – but which family member knows more about Katy’s murder than they are admitting?  

I am a big fan of mysteries and the ending of In The Woods was a shocker- I highly recommend it.

guest post by Sarah

Re-released books can be tricky – it’s easy to mistake them for new novels from your favorite author. But when that author’s earliest books were published in another country, re-releases are a great way to catch the origins for your favorite characters.

One such author is Zoe Sharp, whose first three titles in her popular series about Charolotte “Charlie” Fox – no-nonsense, motorcycle-riding, close-protection specialist – were only released in the UK. One could enjoy Charlie’s missions and personal trials without reading the books before First Drop – which is actually the fourth book in the series – hit the United States in 2004, but fans wanted more.

Killer Instinct introduces Charlie shortly after the British army threw her out for reasons that have estranged her from her family. She’s making something of a living teaching self-defense to women, but one of her classes has to move out of its meeting space when the new owner of the building refurbishes it as a nightclub. Charlie reluctantly agrees to visit the club for a karaoke contest and is forced to use her skills to defend her friend against the jealous reigning champion.

This nets her a new job with the nightclub’s testosterone-heavy, borderline hostile security team – and a bigger problem when the woman she fought is murdered. Charlie figures she’ll be the number one suspect, until it becomes clear that a homicidal serial rapist is stalking are women. And that the killer is somehow connected to the strange goings-on at the club…

Charlie is a terrific protagonist and Ms Sharp is a talented author. Between the two of them they make Killer Instinct a must-read – or even a re-read – for those who enjoy mysteries with strong women, elusive bad guys and just a touch of emotional angst.

Looking for an author who is not only prolific but a dependably good storyteller? Michael Connelly has written over 21 books, and continues to create new characters and develop relationships between old characters.

In The Poet, written in 1996, reporter Jack McEvoy’s brother has apparently committed suicide. Jack can’t believe that his twin brother, a homicide cop, would have killed himself. To clear his brother’s name, he starts to investigate several anomalies. This  leads Jack to research the deaths of homicide detectives around the country. Because he is a crime reporter for Denver newspaper, Jack can both write a story about the serial killings and find out what happened to his brother.

He ultimately combines forces with the FBI whose vast resources jump start the race to catch  the Poet. McEvoy knew that there was a serial killer when he found out that the various suicide notes contained lines from Edgar Allan Poe poems. What the FBI uncovers about the killings is very disturbing for Jack as he gains more knowledge about how his brother died.

Connelly’s skill is in combining an absorbing plot and likable protagonists; a great go-to guy when you just need a good read.