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Cemetery Girl by David Bell (2011)

cemeterygirlTom and Abby Stuart had a wonderful life—until their 12-year-old daughter Caitlin disappeared without a trace. Four years later, the police find their daughter alive. She refuses to discuss anything that happened to her during the time she was gone. Of course, she is a stranger to her parents, who are hanging onto their marriage by a thread.

Cemetery Girl is a good psychological thriller, told from Caitlin’s father’s point of view. When the villain is finally revealed, he is especially repulsive. I will definitely try more novels by David Bell.

The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie (2015)

drifterHighly recommend this debut novel to fans of mysteries, thrillers, suspense, and especially fans of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. The main protagonist, Peter Ash, is an ex-Marine Lieutenant who served for eight years in Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon returning to the U.S. a year earlier, he decides to live in the mountains, as PTSD causes him to have extreme claustrophobia and panic attacks when indoors for any time. When he finds out that his best friend from the military committed suicide, he goes to Milwaukee to help out this friend’s widow and two sons. The mystery begins when he finds a suitcase with lots of cash and explosives under the porch of their house.

In The Drifter, the cast of characters are vividly-drawn and complex, even the dog, Mingus. A central theme in this book is the effects of war on returning vets. I'm looking forward to Nicholas Petrie’s next book with Peter Ash (Burning Bright, which was released earlier this month).

Home by Harlan Coben (2016)

homeTen years ago, two boys—Patrick Moore and Rhys Baldwin—both from wealthy families, are kidnapped. Ransom was demanded and dropped off but not retrieved. Rhys' mother's cousin, Win Lockwood, has been determined to bring both boys home ever since. When Win receives a strange message that the boys have been spotted in London, Win enlists the help of his best friend, Myron, to help him in his search. Home is a quick, exciting thriller from Harlan Coben!

We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley (2016)

bebeautifulThis psychological spellbinder introduces Catherine West, a wealthy woman who wants for nothing and trusts no one. She has fine art on her walls, runs her own business, buys anything she desires, has a masseuse on call, and many, many wealthy friends but trusts no one.

Catherine is in her 40s desiring a husband and child, and when a very rugged handsome man approaches her at an art gallery, she keeps telling herself it is all too good to be true. Maybe it is? Check out We Could Be Beautiful and read this twisty, intoxicating, unsettling story by Swan Huntley today!

The Couple Next Door by Sheri Lapeña (2016)

couplenextdoorAnne and Marco Conti leave their newborn baby at home alone and go to a party at the neighbor’s house. Despite them checking on the baby every half hour, the baby is missing when they get home.

Sheri Lapeña’s The Couple Next Door is a gripping, can’t-put-down tale of deception, betrayal, and unfaithfulness that will keep you in suspense until the final twist.

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham (2015)

roguelawyerSebastian Rudd treads close to the edge of the precipice as he represents clients other lawyers eschew. Among his clients are an accused child molester, a mobster who arranges an escape from death row, a homeowner who shoots a SWAT team member, and an ultimate cage fighter who dispatches a referee. A routine day for Rudd might include the threat of arrest, bodily harm, or disbarment. His personal life too has tension brought on by his lawyer ex-wife as she files court papers seeking to restrict his visits with their young son. Rudd cares deeply for his son and is greatly distressed when the boy goes missing, probably kidnapped to add to his stress. With amazing creativity, Rudd plays one against another in hope of a good outcome in John Grisham’s Rogue Lawyer.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2006)

13thtaleDiane Setterfield masterfully weaves together a gothic tale of suspense, mystery, and loss. The novel follows the story of two women, one a reclusive author, Vida Winter, who has weaved together so many stories about her life no one knows the truth and the other a young biographer, Margaret Lea, who has been chosen by Winter to take down her true story before Winter succumbs to old age and various ailments plaguing her.

Winter’s tale unfolds mainly in flashback, recounting her eccentric upbringing and the tragedy that tore her family apart. The reader is left to figure out which character Winter is in her tale. Meanwhile, Lea is forced to look to her own past, the loss of her twin and the resulting withdrawal from day-to-day life of her mother. She tries to examine how it has shaped who she is and how she can move forward with her own life. Themes explored include identity, loss, reconciliation, death, and twins.

The Thirteenth Tale was originally released in Australia as an adult novel, but subsequently was released in the United States as a novel targeted to young adults. In 2007, it won an Alex Award, which is annually given to ten books written for adults that have a special appeal to young adults.

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz (2015)

ashleybellOddly enough, Ashley Bell is not the main character of this psychological suspense novel. She is the focal point of Bibi Blair's quest after her fatal diagnosis of brain cancer at age 22. Bibi has always been an independent, intelligent, and creative person. She began her writing career as a child. She is much loved by her parents and fiancé, who is fighting terrorism in a secret location as a Navy SEAL when Bibi is diagnosed. In Ashley Bell, the three are powerless to help Bibi in her battle as Dean Koontz weaves an intricate adventure the reader will not soon forget.

A Necessary End by Holly Brown (2015)

necessaryendAdrienne is 39 and desperate to be a mother. Her husband Gabe isn’t that anxious to have a family, but goes along with the idea to please his wife. After failed IVF attempts and being scammed by a fake birth mother, Adrienne is willing to do anything to fulfill her dream. Into their lives comes 19-year-old Leah, who is pregnant and not interested in keeping her baby. Leah, however, has some stipulations, including living with Adrienne and Gabe for one year before signing the adoption papers. What could possibly go wrong? Well, just about everything.

A Necessary End is a good psychological thriller, told from two different viewpoints. Holly Brown’s novel includes some unexpected twists toward the end.

Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman (2016)

wildelakeWhen Lu Brant is elected the first female state's attorney of a county outside Baltimore, it should be the pinnacle of her career, but when she decides to try a murder case against homeless Rudy Drysdale, she's forced to confront buried memories of her own childhood. Lu's brother A.J. was involved at 18 in an incident where he broke his arm and another man died. Lu was ten at the time, enamored of popular A.J. and his group of friends. No charges were ever brought against anyone, but as Lu proceeds in her case, she finds that Drysdale was two years behind A.J. in school and that they might have known each other. Lu also reflects on being raised by her father, also a state's attorney, after her mother died while Lu was very young.

Wilde Lake is a novel that transports you to 1970s and 1980s suburban Baltimore and fully immerses the reader in a world of childhood and family secrets. Like Laura Lippman's best novels, Wilde Lake is a book that stay with you even after the last page is turned.

Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay (2015)

brokenpromiseDavid Harwood is the main character in Linwood Barclay’s latest novel. He is a down-on-your-luck guy, a widower and father of a young boy. The newspaper he worked for has gone out of business, and he and his son live with his parents in Promise Falls, New York. A cousin he is close to has recently been accused of kidnapping a baby and killing his mother.

Since David has a lot of time on his hands, he sets out to prove his cousin’s innocence. In the meantime, there are several strange occurrences happening in Promise Falls, and the police are scrambling to find answers. Broken Promise is a good novel filled with suspense. The author left the ending open with several unanswered questions. Maybe there will be a Promise Falls sequel?

Lock In by John Scalzi (2014)

lockinRequired: a willingness to suspend disbelief and go along for the gripping ride. In this near futuristic thriller, newly minted FBI Agent Chris Shane gets thrust into a complicated case on his first day.

NPR summarizes the premise best: in this world, Haden's Syndrome is “a global, meningitis-like pandemic that, in addition to killing lots of people, also left a certain percentage of them completely paralyzed. This paralysis is called ‘lock in.’” Shane is a Haden and uses a personal transport device to navigate the world (hence the futuristic technology part).

Science fiction isn’t my go-to genre, and it may not be yours, but if you enjoy fast-paced adventures with a mystery to solve, give this one a shot. In John Scalzi’s Lock In, the world is grounded in enough reality that theoretically it could happen. And Will Wheaton does a fantastic job narrating the novel. Highly recommended.

The Prince by Vito Bruschini (2015)

princeFive hundred years after Machiavelli wrote The Prince, Vito Bruschini appropriately named his novel the same. One might regard this later The Prince as a prequel to Puzo’s Godfather but the characters are not the same. Bruscini gives us Prince Ferdinando Licata, a respected land owner in 1920-1930s Sicily who does not hesitate to use charm and strong strategies to control the peasantry.

With the advent of Mussolini, he has conflicts with local fascists and flees to New York to escape a possible murder charge. In New York, Licata, helped by a few others from his home area of Sicily, becomes powerful and a man to be feared. When other powerful leaders seek his removal, he joins with U.S. intelligence (OSS) in planning the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943. Thus he is able to avenge some of the wrongs he received from the fascists and begin building a new basis for power in his area of Sicily. This book shows how violence, terror, and revenge was used to gain a position of power.

Is Fat Bob Dead Yet? by Stephen Dobyns (2015)

fatbobI've read other suspense novels by Stephen Dobyns, but Is Fat Bob Dead Yet? was quite a surprise. This is a comic caper novel with a good deal in common with Elmore Leonard or even a Coen Brothers movie. Connor Raposo, a young man at loose ends, finds himself involved in a shady phone scam in New London, Connecticut. A motorcycle gang, bumbling detectives, and Elvis lookalike in witness protection combine for a funny romp.

The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer (2016)

girlinredcoatA mother and daughter are separated at a crowded fair and suddenly 8-year-old Carmel vanishes.  Kate Hamer’s book alternates perspectives between Carmel and her mother, Beth. The Girl in the Red Coat captures the heart wrenching effects of such a tragedy from both Carmel and Beth's perspectives.  This book is suspenseful, deeply emotional, and very engrossing – twists and turns in the plot kept me riveted until the end.  If you have anything else to do, don't start this book as you won't be able to put it down until it is finished.