The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

What would you do if you knew who was behind a violent crime yet no one believed you? Alex Michaelides discusses this topic in his latest novel, The Maidens.

Mariana knows the truth, but she can’t understand why no one believes her. She knows that Edward Fosca is a murderer. It’s so obvious to her that he’s behind this string of horrible events, but the problem is that Edward Fosca is untouchable. A beloved Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University who is handsome and adored by staff and students, Fosca is shielded by his politeness, mystique, and charisma. Mariana just knows he did it.

Flashback to when Mariana first saw Fosca. After being called to Cambridge University by her niece Zoe, Mariana finds herself overwhelmed. One of Zoe’s friends has been found brutally murdered in Cambridge. As a group therapist, Mariana places herself in the middle of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens to figure out what happened. After all, the murdered girl was a member of The Maidens. As she starts exploring, Mariana realizes that Edward Fosca is the man in charge of the group. His relationship with The Maidens concerns her. He seems to have complete control over his students who worship him.

The more Mariana dives into this mystery, the more she suspects that behind the beauty of the Cambridge campus and its intricate traditions something incredibly more sinister lurks. She believes that Edward Fosca is to blame for everything even though he has an alibi. Marina quickly spirals out of control when another body is found in Cambridge. With her credibility at stake and her relationships floundering, Mariana must stop the killer at any cost.

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My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Have you ever wondered about the secret lives of serial killers? Samantha Downing’s debut novel My Lovely Wife examines what would happen if a married couple decided to start killing.

Tobias and Millicent are a normal couple. They met, fell in love, had kids, and moved to the suburbs. They have everything a family could ever want. Only it wasn’t enough. They got bored.

Millicent and Tobias look like a normal couple. They are active in their communities, have goals for themselves, and do all the normal things that families and couples do. They even have secrets to help them keep their marriage alive. The only hiccup: their secrets are, shall we say, different than others. They get away with murder.

It’s exciting. The whole process. Finding a target, following them, figure out how they want to murder. It’s definitely spiced up their marriage. Everything is perfect until the moment when it all comes crashing down and they realize that what brought them together as a couple has the potential to tear their family apart forever.

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Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Liz Moore’s newest book, Long Bright River, is a dive into drug addiction and the impact it has on families across generations. Alternating back and forth the present and past, Moore tells the moving story of two sisters and the additions that define their lives and relationships.

Mickey and Kacey are sisters. Living in Philadelphia, the two travel the same streets on a daily basis, but they live vastly different lives. Growing up in a Philadelphia neighborhood that saw the opioid crisis destroy their family and the community around them, Mickey and Kacey have changed immensely since their childhood days. As children, the two were inseparable, sharing a bed in their grandmother’s house and struggling to survive in a world without their parents. Kacey always stuck up for Mickey, keeping her safe and taking her side. Mickey, the older sister, kept an eye out for Kacey, making sure that she was where she needed to be.

Mickey is a police officer. Kacey lives on the streets, struggling with addiction. They haven’t spoken in years, yet Mickey keeps an eye out for Kacey as she drives through the area. Mickey never stops worrying about her sister, hoping she will eventually get, and stay, sober.

One day, Mickey realizes that she hasn’t seen Kacey in a while. She has disappeared. Mickey starts asking around and people are hesitant to say anything about her whereabouts. The same time that Kacey disappeared, a string of murders starts in Mickey’s district. This extra stress leads Mickey to take the law in her own hands. She will do anything to find the person responsible for the murders, and hopefully her sister, before her world comes crashing down.

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Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Tiffany D. Jackson is the master of soul searching young adult fiction. Her first young adult novel, Allegedly, was published in 2017. This novel is based on a story that was in the headlines years ago that caught the author’s attention.

Allegedly tells the story of Mary B. Addison. She killed a baby. Allegedly. After the police were called and she was brought in for an interview, Mary didn’t say much. In fact, she didn’t talk. Mary’s situation was very much a trial by media. Since little was being said about the circumstances surrounding the baby’s death, the media drew their own conclusions. A white baby had died while under the care of a black woman and her daughter. The woman went to church while her daughter was only nine-years old. Mary went to trial. The public and the media had all but convicted Mary of the crime and the jury sentenced her.

Mary was sent to baby jail for six years before being placed in a group home. She never came out and said what actually happened, so her fellow prisoners and jailers all treated her as if she was guilty. The group home is bad. Mary lives in a state of constant fear and the other girls who live there constantly torment her. The women in charge of the home degrade the girls and treat them badly.

The only bright spot in her life is Ted. Since Mary is in a group home, she is able to leave for certain things: one of them being her assignment to work at a nursing home. It is at that nursing home that she meets Ted. He sees her for who she really is: a young woman in desperate need for kindness. Ted also doesn’t know Mary’s dark past and she isn’t quite sure when, or even if, she should tell him until she discovers that she is pregnant. With the state threatening to take away her baby, Mary needs to get the truth out about what happened the night the baby died. She won’t lose her baby over something that she didn’t do. In order to prove her innocence, Mary has to fight. She also has to get her Momma to tell the truth.

You see, no one but Mary knows the real Momma. Momma puts up a huge front and since the baby died, she has been born again. She has written out the nasty story of what Mary did and is working to start anew. Mary must get her to acknowledge the truth of what happened that night if she has any hope of keeping her baby and staying with Ted.

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Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

Yo, Malcolm X said it best. ‘The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman. – Tiffany D Jackson, Grown

Sometimes a book breaks your heart, but you need to share it with others. Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson was a brutal, raw, heartrending, but necessary read, telling the story of so many Black girls that are trapped in a system of violence, abuse, misogyny, manipulation, and rape culture perpetuated by men who are consistently protected by the people surrounding them. This book was hard for me to read, as most of Tiffany D. Jackson’s books are, but it’s an essential read to spread awareness and inspire change.

Enchanted Jones wakes up in a room with a painful headache. She has no idea where she is. Her vision is still blurry. There are red pools all over the floor, the walls, the furniture. Why would someone pout beet juice everywhere? Wait. That’s not beet juice. That’s blood. This isn’t her house. She slowly remembers that this place belongs to Korey. Korey. He is going to be so angry with her when he sees this mess. Wait! Who is that lying covered in beet juice? That’s Korey. And that’s not beet juice. He’s not moving. He’s not breathing. Someone’s knocking on the door. She’s going to be in so much trouble.

Flash back.

All Enchanted wants is to be a singer. She’s only 17, but she knows college isn’t for her. She wants to sing. Her parents aren’t so sure. But ever since she sang those old songs with her grandmother when she was young, Enchanted has known this is what she needs to do. She has the voice and the talent. She just needs a break.

Miracles do happen. Or that’s what Enchanted thinks when she goes to a singing competition and meets the famous R&B singer Korey Fields. Korey sees her potential and wants to help her succeed. He offers to give her free singing lessons. Korey wants her to join his world tour. He’ll help her record an album. Enchanted finally has what she wants within her reach.

Enchanted feels like she’s living a fairytale dream. Her parents and friends are more skeptical. They don’t understand why Korey Fields, a 28 year old man, would be interested in her, a 17-year old girl still in high school. Korey begins to act possessive around Enchanted and despite her friend Gabby’s warning that she should get away from him, she wants desperately to keep him in her life.

Enchanted loves Korey. He’s her whole world. Korey believes in her. She wants to sing. She wants to feel beautiful and loved. She wants Korey’s support and approval because he is already established in the music industry and has the power to give her everything she has ever wanted. He loves her. What does it matter if the Korey she thought she knew has different sides she’s not 100% comfortable with? She still loves him.

Until she doesn’t. She needs to get out. Her fairytale love has turned into a nightmare that she can’t escape from. Korey is no longer showering her with love and affection. He’s manipulative, obsessive, abusive and keeps her captive in the house. He tells her lies about her loved ones, pushes on her insecurities, and sends her to her limits. Korey mentally and physically abuses Enchanted, leaving her desperate to escape.

This book is powerful. It shook me to my core. Jackson has written a shocking, twisted, breathtaking book giving voice to people who are afraid to talk about the traumatic experiences that they had endured in the past or may still be enduring.

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October True Crime Pick – American Predator

American Predator by Maureen Callahan has been chosen for the Best Sellers Club October True Crime pick! Librarian Anna has this to say about her latest selection:

Published in July 2019, this bestselling book investigates the heinous crimes of serial killer Israel Keyes. While not as infamous as other serial killers, such as John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy, Keyes is described as being one of the most “ambitious and terrifying serial killers in modern history.” Living in Alaska as a construction worker and as a father to his only daughter, Keyes would travel across the country to bury “kill kits,” which contained cash, weapons, and tools used to dispose of bodies; he planted these supplies in preparation for whenever he had an urge to act upon his sadistic desires in a particular place. He is thought to have murdered at least eleven people before his arrest in 2012, but stayed under the radar for fifteen years, as the first crime he committed was in 1997. I primarily selected this title for the BSC due to the positive and starred reviews it received from acclaimed journals and reader communities upon publication, as well as due to my surprise of never hearing of Keyes before finding this book, despite him committing these crimes in relatively recent history. I am excited to share this selection with you and hope you enjoy this pick!

Want to know more about American Predator ? Check out the following description provided by the publisher:

A gripping tour de force of investigative journalism that takes us deep into the investigation behind one of the most frightening and enigmatic serial killers in modern American history, and into the ranks of a singular American police force: the Anchorage PD Most of us have never heard of Israel Keyes. But he is one of the most ambitious, meticulous serial killers of modern time. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as “a force of pure evil,” he was a predator who struck all over the United States. He buried “kill kits”–Cash, weapons, and body-disposal tools–in remote locations across the country and over the course of fourteen years, would fly to a city, rent a car, and drive thousands of miles in order to use his kits. He would break into a stranger’s house, abduct his victims in broad daylight, and kill and dispose of them in mere hours. And then he would return home, resuming life as a quiet, reliable construction worker devoted to his only daughter. When journalist Maureen Callahan first heard about Israel Keyes in 2012, she was captivated by how a killer of this magnitude could go undetected by law enforcement for over a decade. And so began a project that consumed her for the next several years–uncovering the true story behind how the FBI ultimately caught Israel Keyes, and trying to understand what it means for a killer like Keyes to exist. A killer who left a path of monstrous, randomly committed crimes in his wake–many of which remain unsolved to this day. American Predator is the ambitious culmination of years of on-the-ground interviews with key figures in law enforcement and in Keyes’s life, and research uncovered from classified FBI files. Callahan takes us on a journey into the chilling, nightmarish mind of a relentless killer, and the limitations of traditional law enforcement, in one of America’s most isolated environments–Alaska–when faced with a killer who defies all expectation and categorization.

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The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

Sometimes a change of scenery is necessary to get your life back on track. Other times, it can end up completely derailing the precious balance that you have. Mary Kubica’s latest book, The Other Mrs., talks about the balance between family and work, new and old.

Sadie and Will Foust have the perfect life. Well, at least they used to. Having started their family in Chicago, they always imagined staying there forever. When Sadie finds out that Will is having an affair and when her older son has issues at school, they decide they need to move. Uprooting their family from Chicago to a tiny island off the coast of Maine, the Foust family is ready to start over.

Having only lived in this small town for a few weeks, Sadie is shocked when their neighbor Morgan Baines is found dead in her home down the street. Crime doesn’t happen on the island. The murder shocks the small town, but Sadie takes it extra hard. She never imagined the horrors of Chicago would follow them to Maine, but it seems that they did. Sadie is on edge.

Searching for any clues as to what happened to Morgan, Sadie is dismayed to discover that suspicion has been cast onto her family. As the new family in town, Sadie can’t understand why people believe that anyone in her family would have anything to do with Morgan’s death. Wanting to clear her family, Sadie starts digging into what really happened that night. The more she uncovers, the more uncomfortable and uneasy she feels about the truth. If anyone finds out what actually happened, her life would be destroyed. Sadie has to decide what she’s going to do with the information she discovers.

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Take Me Apart by Sara Sligar

The lives of famous artists has always fascinated me. You get a tiny glimpse of their lives when you visit museums, but that’s hardly the full story. Sara Sligar’s debut book, Take Me Apartlets readers look into the background of a photographer as people try to figure out what really happened to her.

Take Me Apart by Sara Sligar talks about the history of a famous photographer through the eyes of an ex-journalist hired by her son. Miranda Brand is a famous photographer who died mysteriously when she was at the peak of her career. Miranda left behind a grieving husband and a young son who had to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. The whole community of Callinas, California was shocked and wondered what really happened to Miranda. Her artwork became even more priceless and her agent was able to sell what he had left of hers for very high prices.

Decades later, Miranda’s son Theo heads back to the house where he grew up. His father has recently died and Theo has decided to clean up the house. He hires ex-journalist Kate Aitken to archive Miranda’s work and personal effects. She begins the arduous process of organizing her materials and finds herself at the center of the rumor mill surrounding the Brand family and their house. The community is still telling stories full of rumors and somewhat shocking details about Miranda’s life, while Kate is finding out bits and pieces of her true life. Miranda seemed to be crumbling under the pressures of family, marriage, and trying to balance her artistic ambition with being a new mother. While she works to catalog all of Miranda’s papers, Kate is continuously haunted by secrets from her own past. When a surprising discovery related to Miranda falls into her lap, Kate’s curiosity begins to tip out of her control, leading her down a spiral that concerns all those around her.

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite is a crime novel that quickly draws you into the story and has you looking closely at how far you would be willing to go to help a family member.

Korrede is just sitting down to dinner when she gets a frantic phone call from her sister, Ayoola, desperately needing her help. Rushing out of the house, Korrede hopes that her sister hasn’t done what she thinks she has done. Ayoola, Korrede’s younger sister, has a rather inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends. She always draws Korrede into the mess, asking her to help her cover up the crime.

Korrede is bitter. Ayoola is her younger sister and clearly her mother’s favorite. Ayoola is beautiful and can get any man to love her. Men flock to Ayoola and she always has a next man lined up.

Helping her sister through all her problems, Korrede is still hopeful that eventually Ayoola will stop and change. Korrede’s saving grace is her job as a nurse at a local hospital. While some of the people that she works with get on her nerves, Korrede looks forward to working with the kind and very handsome doctor who treats her as an equal. She hopes that one day he will realize that they are perfect together.

All of Korrede’s hopes are shattered the day that Ayoola stops by the hospital uninvited and catches the attention of the doctor. They instantly connect and Korrede is forced to deal with Ayoola’s past. She needs to figure out what to do before Ayoola slips and attacks the doctor.

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All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Space.  The corporate-dominated rim is populated by humans, augmented humans, computer systems and constructs.  All of which can communicate via the feed.

A team of scientists exploring a ringed planet has hired a security unit for protection.  SecUnits are armed security constructs with some organic parts.  Armor.  Helmet plate.  Energy weapons built into their forearms.

Humans control the constructs.  They tell them where to go and what to do.  A governor programmed within their code ensures that they follow instructions.

At least that is the plan.  But one SecUnit has managed to hack its governor, making it a rogue.  It does as instructed, because it doesn’t want the humans to discovered that it has free will.  Given the opportunity it will hang out in the cargo hold and pick from the almost 35,000 of hours entertainment it has downloaded.  It just wants to be left alone.

Sure, it will perform its job.  It’s been leased by the Company to the scientists.  It will respond to emergency situations and keep its clients safe.  But it doesn’t really care.  No one really takes its good advice anyway.  Heck, it’s not like it is the one who has the experience protecting people.

“SecUnit” is how the humans refer to it.  But it knows its true name.

Murderbot.

All Systems Red is Book 1 in the Murderbot Diaries series written by Martha Wells.  It received the 2018 Hugo Award.  So far five titles chronicle the escapades of Murderbot.  The sixth is due out in spring 2021.

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