The Arctic Fury by Greer Macallister

“Women can do far more than the narrow lens of society deems fitting. I suspect there is nothing, literally nothing, of which women are not capable.”
― Greer Macallister, The Arctic Fury

Greer Macallister is an author who frequently pops up in review journals, but admittedly an author that I have never read. When I saw her latest book, The Arctic Fury, on the shelves, I decided to give it a try. The premise was fascinating: a group of women explorers heads to the Arctic in search of missing men. Yes please.

1855 – Lady Jane Franklin is gathering women to travel to the Arctic to find the ships of her husband’s lost expedition. Virginia Reeve has been summoned by her with the enticing offer to lead these dozen women. Every other expedition she has sent has failed. At her wit’s end, Lady Franklin has decided to send all women and to let the women, specifically Virginia, make all the decisions. The catch: if the women fail, she will deny any knowledge of said expedition. If they succeed, she will pay handsomely. The women just need to bring back Lady Franklin’s husband if alive, and if not, they should bring back word of what they have discovered.

Virginia Reeve believes she knows why she has chosen, all thanks to an article written by a woman journalist. She has led over 400 people to safety across the west, but this voyage will be her first trip to the Arctic. All preparations for the journey have been made by/through Lady Franklin’s envoy, Brooks. Virginia is allowed to select a handful of women to round out the crew selected by Lady Franklin herself. When the women meet up to start their expedition, none of them have any idea what awaits them on the ice.

This story is told through flashbacks. In present, Virginia is on trial for one count of kidnapping and murder. Through flashbacks, readers learn more about the women’s perilous trek north, what led Virginia to lead this mission, as well as a look into various expedition members’ backgrounds. I found some of the sections to be dull, while others had me on edge wondering what would happen next. Overall, I enjoyed this book and can’t wait to see what the author writes next.

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The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

To tell you the truth, I don’t get how we can almost unanimously agree that murder is wrong, yet when it comes to rape some people still see shades of gray.  – Megan Goldin, The Night Swim

Megan Goldin’s latest The Night Swim is a psychological thriller that covers a controversial trial in a small town. Content warning: this book talks about rape, violence, sexual assault, sexual battery, murder, and domestic violence.

Rachel Krall is a true crime podcast host. She has become a common household name after a previous season set an innocent man free. The attention this garnered her has been both positive and negative. Some of the public also see her as the last hope of those seeking justice, constantly wanting her attention.

For her third season, Rachel has come to the small town of Neapolis to cover a controversial trial pitting a local golden boy against a young girl. This rape trial has torn the town apart. A swimmer on track to compete at the Olympics has been accused of raping the young granddaughter of the police chief. Rachel need this latest season to be a success, so she throws herself into the investigation and attends every day of the trial.

Rachel’s concentration is derailed when she finds a note under her car windshield asking for help. Thinking it was a one-off, Rachel continues her investigation into the trial. More mysterious letters keep showing up asking Rachel to find out what really happened to the writer’s sister twenty-five years ago. Officially Jenny Stills drowned, but the writer insists that she was actually murdered. Despite the pressures of the podcast weighing on her, Rachel can’t stop her desire to look into Jenny’s case. The more questions she asks, the more non-answers she receives. No one wants to dig up the past. Rachel’s investigation into Jenny’s case takes a turn when she realizes that both the present trial and the past mystery are connected. What she discovers could have devastating consequences for all involved.

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A Nearly Normal Family by M. T. Edvardsson

I have been slowly making my way through books recommended to me by other librarians. A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson was my latest recommended read  and it blew me away. This is a Swedish thriller translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles. This Scandinavian crime novel had me buzzing as I tried to figure out what was going on. Trying to categorize this book is difficult, but I would describe it as a mix between courtroom drama/legal thriller and family drama/domestic suspense. Let’s get into it!

Edvardsson has crafted a new buzzy novel that tells the story of eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell and her family. Stella is accused of the brutal and horrific murder of a shady businessman almost fifteen years older than her. Her family can’t believe she actually did this. Her father is a priest while her mother is a criminal defense family. Stella is an ordinary teenager with normal teenage problems who grew up in a honorable and honest local family. Her being accused of murder throws the whole family and surrounding community into massive confusion.

Why would Stella have killed him? How did she even know him? The victim was the son of a well-known woman in the community which throws another layer of tension into the whole situation. As the investigation progresses, Stella’s parents quickly find their morals tested as they continue to protest to all who will listen that their daughter is innocent. Understanding why and how she could be considered a suspect is difficult for them to come to terms with.

This book handles complex topics and is told from three different perspectives, making it an unusual read that gives you multiple viewpoints and background stories surrounding the same event. By seeing those different perspectives, readers see how each character deals with questions of how well you really know other people and how far you are willing to go to protect them.

This book is also available in the following format:

Deadline by Sandra Brown

I love romance books. They are the perfect stress-free read. When I’m feeling anxious or need a break, I tend to gravitate toward the romance section in the library for a new(to me) romance read. I can usually fly through a romance novel in a day or two and get back to my other reading. I needed a good romance read recently and decided to look for one online. I checked out a copy of Deadline by Sandra Brown a week ago through OverDrive. I had just finished another book, saw Deadline, thought the cover looked interesting AND saw it was available immediately for checkout, so I decided to give it a listen. I had never read anything from Sandra Brown before, so I was expecting a regular suspenseful fiction read. Boy, was I wrong.

Deadline by Sandra Brown is a fantastically crafted piece of romantic suspense fiction that deals with family secrets, post-traumatic stress disorder, presumed deaths, missing persons, domestic terrorists, and a massive hunt for the truth. Dawson Scott is a journalist who has traveled the world writing stories. He just returned from Afghanistan after spending almost a year in combat conditions. Dawson is trying to cope with battle fatigue, but finds alcohol and drugs to be his only solace. He’s haunted by what he witnessed overseas and simply trying to get through his life one hour at a time. After being told by his boss that he is to fly somewhere less than desirable to cover a story, Dawson receives a phone call from his source within the FBI that has the power to completely change his life.

Amelia Nolan is struggling to get over the death of her ex-husband, former Marine Jeremy Wesson. Jeremy disappeared and was later presumed to have been murdered after the mutilated body of his married girlfriend was found eaten by dogs. Jeremy’s DNA was found on scene and authorities have presumed him dead. The woman’s husband is on trial for his murder and Amelia has been called to testify. Tackling this case while raising two very young children as a single parent, Amelia is working hard to keep her life together. With her nanny in tow, Amelia and the boys spend time on the beach, their safe haven from the craziness around the trial.

Dawson’s source has called to say that the DNA found at the Wesson crime scene has found a match. Jeremy is actually the biological son of a pair of domestic terrorists who have been on the FBI’s most wanted list for over 40 years. Pleading with Dawson, his source convinces him to cover the trial of Jeremy’s presumed murderer to try to find out more information about Jeremy’s life. Walking into the courtroom, Dawson plans on staying for a few days, writing his story, and moving on. The minute he sets eyes on Amelia though, his plan goes out the window. In an effort to learn more about Jeremy, Dawson decides to get closer to Amelia and soon finds himself developing feelings for her. Dawson has to stay focused, figure out who Jeremy Wesson really is, and if he is still in contact with his domestic terrorist parents. Could he catch them? Just how much danger are Amelia and her boys in?

This book is definitely a thriller with a bit of romance. Brown has crafted a book that is very suspenseful, but has some definite steamy scenes. This book is well-crafted with a plot that is quite twisty and chockful of red herrings. I was engrossed through this book as Dawson and Amelia worked to find out the truth. Highly recommend. I can’t wait to read more Sandra Brown!


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Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

dark placesDark Places by Gillian Flynn completes my mission to read all of Flynn’s work. Living in my own little bublle, I only became aware of Gillian Flynn as an author when Gone Girl became a movie. After it came out on DVD, I quickly checked it out and watched it, which lead me down a quick path to reading everything that Flynn has ever written (I’ve written blog posts about her other works, so search this blog for more info!).

Dark Places is a gripping piece of suspense fiction following the life of Libby Day, a thirty-one year old woman whose mother and two sisters were brutally murdered twenty-five years ago when Libby was just seven years old. Based on her testimony, Libby’s fifteen year old brother Ben was sentenced to prison for life for the murders. After a meeting with her trust fund manager, Libby, who has never worked a day, realizes that the public donations and life insurance money that she has been living off is almost gone. She has no idea what to do next.

A chance phone call from a man named Lyle, who is a member of the Kill Club, proves to be Libby’s somewhat salvation. The Kill Club is a club for people who are obsessed with murders, serial killers, violence, regular killers, and a wide variety of related subjects. She meets with the Kill Club and realizes that she can get them to pay her; the only caveat being that she has to dig into her brother Ben’s case and the murders of her family. Once she starts talking to people and answering the questions the Kill Club has for her, Libby starts questioning if what she thought she saw twenty five years ago was what actually happened. Did Ben really commit those heinous crimes? Or is someone else responsible. This book will have you sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next.

Dark Places was also made into a movie that came out in 2015 starring Charlize Theron as adult Libby Day. The library has this movie available in DVD and Blu-ray.


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