Friday, March 17, 2023

House in the Pines by Ana Reyes and a break

 Happy Spring! Our weather is so up and down this month. Summer one day, winter the next.

I did listen to a book you may like. House In the Pines by Ana Reyes. Pretty good psychological thriller.

About: "Armed with only hazy memories, a woman who long ago witnessed her friend's sudden, mysterious death, and has since spent her life trying to forget, sets out to track down answers. What she uncovers, deep in the woods, is hardly to be believed....

Maya was a high school senior when her best friend, Aubrey, mysteriously dropped dead in front of the enigmatic man named Frank whom they'd been spending time with all summer.

Seven years later, Maya lives in Boston with a loving boyfriend and is kicking the secret addiction that has allowed her to cope with what happened years ago, the gaps in her memories, and the lost time that she can't account for. But her past comes rushing back when she comes across a recent YouTube video in which a young woman suddenly keels over and dies in a diner while sitting across from none other than Frank. Plunged into the trauma that has defined her life, Maya heads to her Berkshires hometown to relive that fateful summer--the influence Frank once had on her and the obsessive jealousy that nearly destroyed her friendship with Aubrey.

At her mother's house, she excavates fragments of her past and notices hidden messages in her deceased Guatemalan father's book that didn't stand out to her earlier. To save herself, she must understand a story written before she was born, but time keeps running out, and soon, all roads are leading back to Frank's cabin.."

I will say that I kept thinking Maya did some really dumb things but we find out why in the end. The last third is a pretty good thriller and I imagine a fast read. I wasn't that happy with the ending. It kind of left me hanging and the excuse would be if there is going to be a sequel.

On that note, I am taking a break from blogging for a few weeks. Seem to be having a lot ot time constraints. Also the kerfuffle with Google/Blogger left me with a bad taste. I did hear of a couple of similar experiences of having post deleted for no apparent reason: either bots, hackers or smut snatcher.

Will see how I feel in a few.


Monday, March 13, 2023

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

 Our Mystery Book Club read The Lost Apothecary for our March meeting.

About: "A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them - setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.

Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.
Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose - selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate - and not everyone will survive."

This book was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction 2021 and Best Debut Novel 2021.

The story goes back and forth between Nella's story in 1791 and Caroline's story set in the present. I like books that go between two time periods. I liked both story lines.  They kept my interest and certainly had some suspenseful moments. Nella and Caroline were both strong female characters, trying to make it on their own after being wronged by a man. But their options were different. It was also interesting to read something about apothecaries. I actually looked up additional information on apothecaries. Apothecaries were an option for people who couldn't afford doctors in the 18th and 19th century but went out of business as medicine became more regulated in the 19th century. There were accidental poisonings from apothecary remedies. 

The MBC members all like this book alot. We had a really good discussion about the two women, their options and their choices. One person read an interview with the author and found Sarah Penner may do a sequel with Eliza, Nella's accidental apprentice. Everyone liked that idea and wants to know more about her story. 

All and all, we gave it two thumbs up!

Monday, March 6, 2023

March Mystery Releases

Happy March everyone. I know some are still buried in snow. We are actually having some very nice weather, temperatures a bit above normal which sound good but makes me wonder what summer will be like.

Yes I have been missing from here. We had quite an ice storm at the end of January, first of February, which I think I mentioned before. We spent most of our free time cleaning up all of the broken tree debris over three weeks. It is all lined up curbside in our neighborhood waiting to be picked up and hauled away. It was a cut and drag operation. Husband cut branches, I dragged them to the curb.  

I also had an issue with "Blogger". Not sure it I was hacked or some links on some older posts no longer were valid, but I had to do some sleuthing to correct several posts. Will see how it goes from here.

There are some mysteries coming out this month (March 2023) that I am really interested in.

1. The London Seance Society by Sarah Penner (March 21, 2023)

We read The Lost Apothecary by this author for this months Mystery Book Club. I will share our thoughts this week.

About: 1873. At an abandoned château on the outskirts of Paris, a dark séance is about to take place, led by acclaimed spiritualist Vaudeline D’Allaire. Known worldwide for her talent in conjuring the spirits of murder victims to ascertain the identities of the people who killed them, she is highly sought after by widows and investigators alike.

Lenna Wickes has come to Paris to find answers about her sister’s death, but to do so, she must embrace the unknown and overcome her own logic-driven bias against the occult. When Vaudeline is beckoned to England to solve a high-profile murder, Lenna accompanies her as an understudy. But as the women team up with the powerful men of London’s exclusive Séance Society to solve the mystery, they begin to suspect that they are not merely out to solve a crime, but perhaps entangled in one themselves…

2. The Kind Worth Saving by Peter May (March 7, 2023)

We read A Kind Work Killing by this author in our MBC a few years ago and really liked it. 

About: "In this spectacularly devious novel by New York Times bestselling author Peter Swanson—featuring the smart and complex Lily Kintner from his acclaimed novel, The Kind Worth Killing—a private eye starts to follow a possibly adulterous husband, but little does he know that the twisted trail will lead back to the woman who hired him.

There was always something slightly dangerous about Joan. So, when she turns up at private investigator Henry Kimball’s office asking him to investigate her husband, he can’t help feeling ill at ease. Just the sight of her stirs up a chilling memory: he knew Joan in his previous life as a high school English teacher, when he was at the center of a tragedy.

Now Joan needs his help in proving that her husband is cheating. But what should be a simple case of infidelity beco2mes much more complicated when Kimball finds two bodies in an uninhabited suburban home with a “for sale” sign out front. Suddenly it feels like the past is repeating itself, and Henry must go back to one of the worst days of his life to uncover the truth.

Is it possible that Joan knows something about that day, something she’s hidden all these years? Could there still be a killer out there, someone who believes they have gotten away with murder? Henry is determined to find out, but as he steps closer to the truth, a murderer is getting closer to him, and in this hair-raising game of cat and mouse only one of them will survive."

3. The White Lady by Jacqueline Winspear (March 21, 2023)

This author writes the Maisie Dobbs series which I like. This is with a new sleuth.

About: The White Lady introduces yet another extraordinary heroine/sleuth from Jacqueline Winspear, creator of the best-selling Maisie Dobbs series. This heart-stopping adventure follows the coming of age and maturity of former wartime operative Elinor White—veteran of two wars, trained killer, protective of her anonymity—when she is drawn back into the world of violence she has been desperate to leave behind.

A reluctant ex-spy with demons of her own, Elinor finds herself facing down one of the most dangerous organized crime gangs in London, and exposing corruption from Scotland Yard to the highest levels of government.

Post-World War II Britain, 1947. Forty-one-year-old “Miss White," as Elinor is known, lives in a village in Kent, England, so quietly and privately as to seem an enigma to her fellow villagers. Well she might, as Elinor occupies a "grace and favor" property, a rare privilege offered to faithful servants of the Crown for services to the nation. But the residents of Shacklehurst have no way of knowing how dangerous Elinor's war work had been, or how deeply their mysterious neighbor continues to be haunted by her past.

It will take the child of Jim Mackie, a young farmworker and his wife, Rose, to break through Miss White's icy demeanor—but Jim has something in common with Elinor. He, too, is desperate to escape his past. When the powerful Mackie crime family demands a return of their prodigal son for an important job, Elinor assumes the task of protecting her neighbors, especially the bright-eyed Susie, who reminds her of the darkest day of her life.

Elinor’s wartime training and instincts serve her well, but as she endeavors to neutralize the threat to Jim, Rose and Susie Mackie, she is rapidly led along a tunnel of smoke and mirrors in which former wartime colleagues – who know the truth about what happened in 1944, and the terrible event that led to her wartime suicide attempt – are compromised by more powerful influences.

Ultimately, Elinor will hold a gun to the head of a Mackie crime lord to uncover the truth behind the family's pursuit of Jim, and in doing so, reveal the far-reaching tentacles of their power—along with the truth that will free Elinor from her past."

4. 48 Clues into the Disappearance of My Sister by Joyce Carol Oates (March 14, 2023)

Joyce Carol Oates? Really? One in the same. I remember reading some things by her many many years ago, so I think it will be interesting to take a look at this book.

About: "Marguerite, a beautiful woman, has disappeared from her small town in Upstate New York. But is foul play involved? Or did she merely take an opportunity to get away for fun, or finally make the decision to leave behind her claustrophobic life of limited opportunities?

Her younger sister Gigi wonders if the flimsy silk Dior dress, so casually abandoned on the floor, is a clue to Marguerite’s having seemingly vanished. The police examine the footprints made by her Ferragamo boots leaving the house, ending abruptly, and puzzle over how that can help lead to her. Gigi, not so pretty as her sister, slowly reveals her hatred for the perfect, much-loved, Marguerite.

Bit by bit, like ripping the petals off a flower blossom, revelations about both sisters are uncovered. Subtly, but with the unbearable suspense at which Joyce Carol Oates excels, clues mount up to bring to light the fate of the missing beauty."

5. The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell (March 7, 2023)

Since I watch a couple of those baking shows/competitions, I think I would like this book.

About: "A killer is on the loose when someone turns up dead on the set of a hit TV baking competition in this darkly beguiling debut mystery that is perfect for fans of Lucy Foley, Nita Prose, and Anthony Horowitz. Soon to be a limited series on Hulu.

Production for the tenth season of Bake Week is ready to begin at the gothic estate of host and celebrity chef Betsy Martin, and everything seems perfect. The tent is up, the top-tier ingredients are aligned, and the crew has their cameras at the ready.

The six contestants work to prove their culinary talents over the course of five days, while Betsy is less than thrilled to share the spotlight with a new cohost—the brash and unpredictable Archie Morris. But as the baking competition commences, things begin to go awry. At first, it’s merely sabotage—sugar replaced with salt, a burner turned to high—but when a body is discovered, everyone is a suspect.

A deliciously suspenseful thriller for murder mystery buffs and avid bakers alike, The Golden Spoon will keep you guessing until the very last page."

I will leave you with the link for the full list here:

I will be sharing The Lost Apothecary and The House in the Pines this week!

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

The Violin Conspiracy by Brenda Slocumb

 For February, our Mystery Book Club (MCB) read The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb. Very appropriate for Black History Month.

About: "Ray McMillian loves playing the violin more than anything, and nothing will stop him from pursuing his dream of becoming a professional musician. Not his mother, who thinks he should get a real job, not the fact that he can't afford a high-caliber violin, not the racism inherent in the classical music world. And when he makes the startling discovery that his great-grandfather's fiddle is actually a priceless Stradivarius, his star begins to rise. Then with the international Tchaikovsky Competition—the Olympics of classical music—fast approaching, his prized family heirloom is stolen. Ray is determined to get it back. But now his family and the descendants of the man who once enslaved Ray's great-grandfather are each claiming that the violin belongs to them. With the odds stacked against him and the pressure mounting, will Ray ever see his beloved violin again?"

I really liked this book. It was a good mystery, well written, lots of twists and turns. But it also addressed many current issues of racism that continue to this day. I will share a link at the end, but the author shares that many of the same incidents of racism actually happened to him. 

Everyone in the MBC really liked this book also. We had a very animated discussion and actually ran out of time! Several people shared their background in playing the violin or other instruments which was interesting. A few people said this book was actually an eye opener for them, that they were not aware that these things were still happening. (The group did challenge those people about that.) One person said she never would have read this book if it wasn't our selection since she is not musical or black, but was very glad she read it and has a new appreciation of several things. Some former teachers said they felt this book should be required reading in school. 

Well done Brendan Slocumb!

About the author: Brendan Nicholaus Slocumb was born in Yuba City, California and was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He holds a degree in music education (with concentrations in violin and viola) from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. For more than twenty years he has been a public and private school music educator and has performed with orchestras throughout Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC.

Interview with the author:

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Goodreads Most Anticipated Thrillers and Mysteries February 2023

 I like that Goodreads is putting these lists out. (Maybe they always have, but I didn't catch them until this year). If you are interested in another genre, you can do a search on "Goodreads Most Anticipate i.e. romance" and should come back with some books.

Looking at February, I see one right away I am interested in. 

The House Guest by Hank Phillip Ryan -2/7/23

About: "The House Guest is another diabolical cat-and-mouse thriller from Hank Phillippi Ryan—but which character is the cat, and which character is the mouse?

After every divorce, one spouse gets all the friends. What does the other one get? If they’re smart, they get the benefits. Alyssa Macallan is terrified when she’s dumped by her wealthy and powerful husband. With a devastating divorce looming, she begins to suspect her toxic and manipulative soon-to-be-ex is scheming to ruin her—leaving her alone and penniless. And when the FBI shows up at her door, Alyssa knows she really needs a friend.

And then she gets one. A seductive new friend, one who’s running from a dangerous relationship of her own. Alyssa offers Bree Lorrance the safety of her guest house, and the two become confidantes. Then Bree makes a heart-stoppingly tempting offer. Maybe Alyssa and Bree can solve each others’ problems.

But no one is what they seem. And the fates and fortunes of these two women twist and turn until the shocking truth emerges: You can’t always get what you want. But sometimes you get what you deserve."

I have read a couple other thrillers by Hank Phillipi Ryan and really liked them. Our Mystery Book Club also had a video chat with her a few years ago. It was very interesting and fun. 

I am not familiar with any of the remaining authors of the recommended February books, so I will pick out a few to highlight. Why have I picked these? I first read the title, then I look at the cover if the title grabs me, then I read what the book is about and go from there. True. I occasionally see authors on social media, polling readers about what grabs readers, what makes them want to read a book. That is my "process".

Of Manners and Murders: Dear Miss Hermione #1 by Anastasia Hastings - 2/7/23

About: "Of Manners and Murder is the first in the delightful new Dear Miss Hermione mystery series from Anastasia Hastings.

1885: London, England. When Violet's Aunt Adelia decides to abscond with her newest paramour, she leaves behind her role as the most popular Agony Aunt in London, "Miss Hermione," in Violet's hands.

And of course, the first letter Violet receives is full, not of prissy pondering, but of portent. Ivy Armstrong is in need of help and fears for her life. But when Violet visits the village where the letters were posted, she finds that Ivy is already dead.

She'll quickly discover that when you represent the best-loved Agony Aunt in Britain, both marauding husbands and murder are par for the course."

I like historical mysteries. :)

The Housemaid's Secret - The Housemaid #2 by Frieda McFadden - 2/20/23

About: "“Don’t go in the guest bedroom.” A shadow falls on Douglas Garrick’s face as he touches the door with his fingertips. “My wife… she’s very ill.” As he continues showing me their incredible penthouse apartment, I have a terrible feeling about the woman behind closed doors. But I can’t risk losing this job—not if I want to keep my darkest secret safe…

It’s hard to find an employer who doesn’t ask too many questions about my past. So I thank my lucky stars that the Garricks miraculously give me a job, cleaning their stunning penthouse with views across the city and preparing fancy meals in their shiny kitchen. I can work here for a while, stay quiet until I get what I want.

It’s almost perfect. But I still haven’t met Mrs Garrick, or seen inside the guest bedroom. I’m sure I hear her crying. I notice spots of blood around the neck of her white nightgowns when I’m doing laundry. And one day I can’t help but knock on the door. When it gently swings open, what I see inside changes everything…

That’s when I make a promise. After all, I’ve done this before. I can protect Mrs Garrick while keeping my own secrets locked up safe.

Douglas Garrick has done wrong. He is going to pay. It’s simply a question of how far I’m willing to go…"

This is book two. I have not read book one: The Housemaid. The cover and first line in the blurb caught my attention.

Murder Your Employer: The Master's Guide to Homicide by Rupert Holmes - 2/21/23

About: "From the diabolical imagination of Edgar Award–winning novelist, playwright, and story-songwriter Rupert Holmes comes a devilish thriller with a killer concept: The McMasters Conservatory for the Applied Arts, a luxurious, clandestine college dedicated to the fine art of murder where earnest students study how best to “delete” their most deserving victim.

Who hasn’t wondered for a split second what the world would be like if a person who is the object of your affliction ceased to exist? But then you’ve probably never heard of The McMasters Conservatory, dedicated to the consummate execution of the homicidal arts. To gain admission, a student must have an ethical reason for erasing someone who deeply deserves a fate no worse (nor better) than death. The campus of this “Poison Ivy League” college—its location unknown to even those who study there—is where you might find yourself the practice target of a classmate…and where one’s mandatory graduation thesis is getting away with the perfect murder of someone whose death will make the world a much better place to live.

Prepare for an education you’ll never forget. A delightful mix of witty wordplay, breathtaking twists and genuine intrigue, Murder Your Employer will gain you admission into a wholly original world, cocooned within the most entertaining book about well-intentioned would-be murderers you’ll ever read." 

Well, I of course read the title and thought "What in the world..." The cover is different and read the blurb. The author's resume is interesting and I think it is a tongue in cheek/comical mystery.

It's One of Us by J.T. Ellison - 2/28/23

About: "Everybody lies. Even the ones you think you know best of all . . .
Olivia Bender designs exquisite home interiors that satisfy the most demanding clients. But her own deepest desire can’t be fulfilled by marble counters or the perfect rug. She desperately  wants to be a mother. Fertility treatments and IVF keep failing. And just when she feels she’s at her lowest point, the police deliver shocking news to Olivia and her husband, Park.
DNA results show that the prime suspect in a murder investigation is Park’s son. Olivia is relieved, knowing this is a mistake. Despite their desire, the Benders don’t have any children. Then comes the confession. Many years ago, Park donated sperm to a clinic. He has no idea how many times it was sold—or how many children he has sired.
As the murder investigation goes deeper, more terrible truths come to light. With every revelation, Olivia must face the unthinkable. The man she married has fathered a killer. But can she hold that against him when she keeps such dark secrets of her own?
This twisting, emotionally layered thriller explores the lies we tell to keep a marriage together--or break each other apart . . ."

This book  interests me because of the DNA component. I am fascinated by all the thing that can be found out these days, particularly solving cold cases.

Here is the list of the other mysteries that Goodreads is "recommending" coming out in February? Maybe you know some of these authors.

The Angel Maker by Alex North: thriller
The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz: psychological suspense
Device Free Weekend by Sean Doolittle: thriller
Stone Cold Fox by Rachel Koller Croft: thriller, debut novel
I Have Some Questions For You by Rebecca Makkai: "Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2023 by TIME, NPR, The Seattle Times, Good Housekeeping, Today, Southern Living, and CrimeReads"
Scorched Grace by Margot Douaihy: "An exciting start to Margot Douaihy's bold series for Gillian Flynn Books that breathes new life into the hard-boiled genre,.

They all sound intriguing and! 

Friday, February 3, 2023

The Cloisters and Texas Winter Storm

 Happy February! We don't need a ground hog to tell us there is going to be six more weeks of winter here in Central Texas. Yet another ice storm. People are still without power, I have not internet, trees down everywhere. So this will be quick!

First: I was upset to get a notice that one of my posts (from a couple of years ago?) was recently deleted because it was against Blogger guidelines. Whaaat? I know I did not write anything questionable or distasteful. All I can think is that there was a hacker or troll that made a really bad comment. I debated on deleting this blog. But decided I will just need to approve any comments for now.

I just finished listening to The Cloisters by Katy Hays.


"When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination.

Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs.

A haunting and magical blend of genres, The Cloisters is a gripping debut that will keep you on the edge of your seat."

Since the power is flickering as I write, let me just say I am still waiting to be gripped to the edge of my seat. The writing is good in that if flows well, moves at a pretty good pace. It woulda/coulda/shoulda been interesting to me. Ann is working at The Cloisters as sort of an internship at this branch of a museum with antiquities, research etc. I like things about those. Ann is from a small town in Washington State. Small town girl goes to the big city and makes bad choices. And surrounds herself with people who also make bad choices and are bad people. 

Should have the Mystery Book Club's take on The Violin Conspiracy for you next week!

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Goodreads Most Anticipated Mysteries and Thrillers January 2023

I am currently reading The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb for our February Mystery Book Club and listening to The Cloisters by Kay Hays. I am liking The Violin Conspiracy and will give  a "full report" on it after the MBC meets. I am not that far into The Cloisters yet. Waiting for that "jumpy" feeling I am expecting from this book. Will let you know when I finish it.

I am always looking ahead for upcoming mysteries for the MBC now that I took the torch from our "leader" of at least 10 years. So I decided I would start watching Goodreads for their lists of upcoming books for each month.

Let's see what has or is coming out this month, January 2023. Since there are 15 books on Goodreads list I will first share the ones by authors I am familiar with or look like a book I would enjoy. Then I will list the remaining titles. 

Exiles by Jane Harper (Aaron Falk #3) 1/31/23

This will be the last Aaron Falk book.

About: "At a busy festival site on a warm spring night, a baby lies alone in her pram, her mother vanishing into the crowds.

A year on, Kim Gillespie’s absence casts a long shadow as her friends and loved ones gather deep in the heart of South Australian wine country to welcome a new addition to the family.

Joining the celebrations is federal investigator Aaron Falk. But as he soaks up life in the lush valley, he begins to suspect this tight-knit group may be more fractured than it seems.

Between Falk’s closest friend, a missing mother, and a woman he’s drawn to, dark questions linger as long-ago truths begin to emerge.

An outstanding novel, a brilliant mystery and a heart-pounding read from the author of The Dry, Force of Nature, The Lost Man and The Survivors."

I have read two other books in addition to The Dry by Jane Harper and really liked them: The Lost Man and Survivors.

All The Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham 1/10/23

About: "One year ago, Isabelle Drake's life changed forever: her toddler son, Mason, was taken out of his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband were asleep in the next room. With little evidence and few leads for the police to chase, the case quickly went cold. However, Isabelle cannot rest until Mason is returned to her—literally.

Except for the occasional catnap or small blackout where she loses track of time, she hasn’t slept in a year.

Isabelle's entire existence now revolves around finding him, but she knows she can’t go on this way forever. In hopes of jarring loose a new witness or buried clue, she agrees to be interviewed by a true-crime podcaster—but his interest in Isabelle's past makes her nervous. His incessant questioning paired with her severe insomnia has brought up uncomfortable memories from her own childhood, making Isabelle start to doubt her recollection of the night of Mason’s disappearance, as well as second-guess who she can trust... including herself. But she is determined to figure out the truth no matter where it leads. "

I haven't read other books by this author but sounds like a fast paced thriller.

The Villa by Rachel Hawkins 1/3/23

About:  "As kids, Emily and Chess were inseparable. But by their 30s, their bond has been strained by the demands of their adult lives. So when Chess suggests a girls trip to Italy, Emily jumps at the chance to reconnect with her best friend.

Villa Aestas in Orvieto is a high-end holiday home now, but in 1974, it was known as Villa Rosato, and rented for the summer by a notorious rock star, Noel Gordon. In an attempt to reignite his creative spark, Noel invites up-and-coming musician, Pierce Sheldon to join him, as well as Pierce’s girlfriend, Mari, and her stepsister, Lara. But he also sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Mari writing one of the greatest horror novels of all time, Lara composing a platinum album––and ends in Pierce’s brutal murder.

As Emily digs into the villa’s complicated history, she begins to think there might be more to the story of that fateful summer in 1974. That perhaps Pierce’s murder wasn’t just a tale of sex, drugs, and rock & roll gone wrong, but that something more sinister might have occurred––and that there might be clues hidden in the now-iconic works that Mari and Lara left behind.

Yet the closer that Emily gets to the truth, the more tension she feels developing between her and Chess. As secrets from the past come to light, equally dangerous betrayals from the present also emerge––and it begins to look like the villa will claim another victim before the summer ends."

The travel to Italy and 1974 intrigue me. I may or may not connect with 1974. :)

Reef Road by Deborah Goodrich Royce 1/20/23

About: "When a severed hand washes ashore in the wealthy enclave of Palm Beach, Florida, the lives of two women—a lonely writer obsessed with the unsolved murder of her mother’s best friend and a panicked wife whose husband has disappeared with their children—collide as the world shutters in the pandemic lockdown of 2020.

A young woman’s life seems perfect until her family goes missing. A writer lives alone with her dog and collects arcane murder statistics. What each of them stands to lose as they sneak around the do-not-enter tape blocking Reef Road beach is exposed by the steady tightening of the cincture encircling them.

In a nod to the true crime that inspired it, Deborah Goodrich Royce’s Reef Road probes unhealed generational scars in a wrenching and original work of fiction. It is both stunning and sexy and, like a bystander surprised by a curtain left open, you won’t be able to look away."

I am wondering what true crime event inspired this now. I lived in Palm Beach County for several years. Tales of the "rich and famous."

The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone 1/3/23

About: "A remote village. A deadly secret. An outsider who knows the truth.

Robert Reid moved his family to Scotland’s Outer Hebrides in the 1990s, driven by hope, craving safety and community, and hiding a terrible secret. But despite his best efforts to fit in, Robert is always seen as an outsider. And as the legendary and violent Hebridean storms rage around him, he begins to unravel, believing his fate on the remote island of Kilmeray cannot be escaped.

For her entire life, Maggie MacKay has sensed something was wrong with her. When Maggie was five years old, she announced that a man on Kilmeray—a place she’d never visited—had been murdered. Her unfounded claim drew media attention and turned the locals against each other, creating rifts that never mended.

Nearly twenty years later, Maggie is determined to find out what really happened, and what the islanders are hiding. But when she begins to receive ominous threats, Maggie is forced to consider how much she is willing to risk to discover the horrifying truth.

If the title sounds familiar, there is a book called The Blackhouse by Peter May. It is book one of the Lewis Trilogy. We read that several years ago and it was very good. That is why this book caught my attention. I do love gothic mysteries set in Scotland!

Here are other books coming out in January. Any favorite authors there?

Just the Nicest Couple: Mary Kubica 

What Lies in the Woods: Kate Alice Marshall 


Age of Vice: Deepti Kappoor

Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone: Benjamin Stevenson

The Blue Bar: Damyanti Biswas (Blue Mumbai #1)

The Drift: C.J. Tudor

Locust Lane: Stephen Amidon

City Under One Roof: Iris Yamashita

The Things We Do To Our Friends: Heather Darwent

Liar, Dreamer, Thief: Maria 

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