Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

There aren’t many novels today which can put you in that wonderfully gothic mood that classics like Rebecca and Jane Eyre did so well.  This debut by Lawrenson is a novel that can.  Set in the present day and the not-so-distant past of a small hamlet in Provence, this novel evokes a sense of unease paralleled by the gorgeous scents and pleasant decay of the homes and landscape. 

Eve meets Dom in Switzerland and after a whirlwind romance they move in together to a hamlet in France.  He does not want to marry having been married once before.  Eve is curious about his first wife, but any attempts she makes to learn more about Rachel are rebuffed by her beau.  He adamantly refuses to talk about Rachel, the woman Eve becomes more and more desperate to discover.  Is she alive somewhere?  Is she dead?  If so, how did the woman die?

This novel starts slowly and builds both suspense and tension throughout the novel.  Not knowing what time frame you are in is a little confusing at first, but it keeps you off balance, feeling very much like Eve trying to understand the man she is with and the home she is living in.

The Popular Fiction Book Discussion Group will be discussing The Lantern on Tuesday, October 18th at 7pm at the Bridgewater Library.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Murder Most Frothy by Cleo Coyle

Murder Most Frothy by Cleo Coyle

Clare Cosi, talented New York barista, is enjoying having some fun in the sun at her new millionaire friend’s mansion out in the Hamptons.  She’s getting the coffee bar of his new restaurant established and he’s providing guestrooms at his mansion for Clare and her daughter.  Then, one of the employees of the restaurant who is helping serve at a mansion party is shot dead while using the master bathroom.  Clare is convinced that David Mintzer, the mansion’s owner, was the true target.  No one, not David, or the police, believe her.  It’s up to Clare to investigate.

While you do learn a LOT about proper techniques of coffee preparation, this is not one of those cozy culinary mysteries.  There’s a good mystery, with lots of red herrings and possible suspects.  The ending is not exactly a surprise, but not completely obvious either.  Coyle brews up a good story, with great New York and Long Island feel.

The Goliath Bone by Mickey Spillane with Max Allan Collins

The Goliath Bone by Mickey Spillane with Max Allan Collins

Spillane died in 2006, but his iconic detective Mike Hammer is still solving cases with the help of author Max Allan Collins who is finishing his unfinished work.

Mike Hammer is the quintessential New York PI.  He’s not politically correct and doesn’t care to be.  He calls it as he sees it and even though he’s getting ready (possibly) to retire, he’s still got it.  In this book the thighbone of Goliath (yes, the Valley of Elah guy killed by that pipsqueak David) is found and brought to the United States for further study by young graduate students.  Various factions want to get their hands on the bone and aren’t concerned with who dies in order for them to get it.

It was odd to me to hear Mike Hammer in modern day, post-9/11 New York City, but it worked.  Hammer tracking al Queda terrorists was unique to say the least.  Gritty, puzzling, and very New York, this is a fitting end to the Mike Hammer novels. 

I definitely recommend this one on audio read by Stacy Keach, the best Mike Hammer.  

Want to join our Mysterious Morning program?  Just read some mysteries!  If it’s a mystery that takes place in NYC then it fits this month’s sub-genre.  Just keep in mind how the setting affects the mystery because that’ll be a major talking point in September.

September’s Mystery Type:
Crime in the Big Apple
Wednesday, September 7th
9:10am – 11:30am, Meeting Room A

Cypress House by Michael Koryta

The Cypress House by Michael Koryta

I knew I was going to be stuck in my house this weekend, possibly with no power, so I needed the PERFECT book to read.  I managed to find a great psychological thriller/horror book taking place during and after a hurricane.  I totally recommend this one when the wind is howling outside your windows.  My fingers are crossed that no one else will be reading this one during a hurricane anytime soon!

It’s Labor Day weekend in 1935 and Arlen Wagner is on a train headed to the Keys to work on the CCC project to build massive bridges between the islands.  But when he awakens from a dose he notices that all of his fellow passengers have grey smoke in their eyes.  He knows everyone on that train will die, and soon.  He tries to warn his fellow passengers but they laugh him off, all except his friend Paul who gets off the train with Arlen at the next stop.  Arlen and Paul hitchhike across Florida, hoping to hook up with another camp, when they learn that the Keys have been wiped out by a massive hurricane.  All the men that were on the train are dead, the hurricane which killed them is headed their way, and they are stuck at the very odd establishment known as Cypress House.

Corrupt officials, strange goings on, ex-cons, swamps, are all here.  If you have a hard time with the supernatural, the only thing eerie going on is one man’s ability to see when people are about to die.  If you are in the mood for a good thriller with a little bit of a scare to it, try this one.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

How cool would it be to attend a circus where the magic performed is real?  At the night circus (open only from sundown to sunrise) the attendees aren’t aware of the magic coursing around them, just that the circus is the most enchanting place they have ever been.  It arrives without warning; it leaves without warning; with no set schedule of where it will appear next. 

As with all wonderful things, there is another side of the story.  Two competing magicians have each taken on an apprentice.  Those apprentices are now engaged in a contest.  The rules are vague, the contestants don’t know the identity of the other and the playing field is the circus.  Who will win?  What is the price of losing?  What will happen to the most enchanting place on earth?

What book is getting the most buzz right now?  This one, hands down!  Every publisher and librarian aimed website is talking about this debut novel.  And it’s understandable why.  It’s a love story, a dark fantasy and a visual treat all in one. 

Coming to town on September 13th – place your holds now!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Graveminder by Melissa Marr

Graveminder by Melissa Marr

How can you not be intrigued by a book with the line “Sleep well, and stay where I put you” on the cover?  I was intrigued and entered the strange town of Claysville where no one ever gets ill until they are at least in their 80th year. 

The residents of Claysville made a contract with Mr. D a century or so ago and since then the Graveminder and Undertaker (roles passed down to those deemed worthy) have been ensuring the dead don’t walk and become the Hungry Dead.  Unfortunately this book starts with one of the Hungry Dead killing the current Graveminder.  The Graveminder’s step-granddaughter comes home for the funeral and finds herself the new Graveminder: a role she never knew existed in a town that is much more unusual than she ever knew.

While there are many unanswered questions at the end of the book, the immediate issues are resolved.  The mystery (why are these dead suddenly hungry?) is well crafted with the resolution being at once satisfying and creepy.  The book leaves you satisfied but curious and wanting to travel to Claysville once again.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Ridge by Michael Koryta

The Ridge by Michael Koryta

When it’s rainy and gloomy out it’s the perfect time to read a ghost story.  The thunder started just as I was getting to the end of this one –perfect timing!

On a ridge in Kentucky an eccentric man built a fully functioning lighthouse.  He keeps it lit every night and even uses infrared lenses when the new neighbors complain about the pulsing intense light.  His new neighbors are about fifty rescued exotic cats.  And they are NOT pleased about the move.  Something just isn’t right about the ridge.  Something that has the local humans and the big cats on edge.  And when the lighthouse goes dark another light shows up on the ridge.  This one is an eerie blue flame and nothing good comes to those who see it.

Koryta is now my go-to ghost story guy.  He’s written three so far, and I’ve read two (this one and So Cold the River).  I’m saving the last one for the next rainy stretch.

Love You More by Lisa Gardner

Love You More by Lisa Gardner

State Trooper Tessa Leoni has murdered her husband by putting three rounds in his chest with her service weapon.  She looks like she went ten rounds with Mike Tyson and doesn’t deny that she was a victim of spousal abuse.  But certain things don’t add up.  Like where is six-year-old Sophie Leoni?  Did Tessa go on a killing spree and murder her whole family?  And there are a lot of other things that just don’t figure and it’s up to Sergeant Detective D.D. Warren of the Boston P.D. to make it all add up.

I love thrillers where I don’t know what’s going on and I can’t figure out who is a bad guy, who is a good guy and how things are eventually going to make sense.  It’s wonderful when the author can leave me in that huh? state of mind well into her book yet still make complete sense when it all wraps up in the end.  Hence, my love of Lisa Gardner.  I discovered her only a few months ago and when I saw she had a new book out I had to listen to it.  This is one of those books that I kept bringing in from the car to keep listening to long into the night.  Which is why I’ve been a little lax with adding new books here – my reading time was usurped by listening time!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson

Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson

If I had to choose only one word to describe this novel that word would be: creepy.  Very, very, hairs sticking up on the back of your neck, creepy.  This is the psychological thriller at its best. 

Christine wakes up each morning confused.  She thinks she’s in her twenties.  She’s horrified when she looks in the mirror and sees the face of a woman twice her age.  She’s even more horrified, and completely confused, when she recognizes herself in that visage.  To add weirdness to oddness she has no memory of the man whose bed she snuck out of to use the bathroom, yet pictures of the two of them are hung all around the mirror.  Apparently he’s her husband.  She finds out that she was in an accident, and since then she wakes up every morning forgetting what happened the day before and can hardly recall any of her past: childhood, adulthood, nothing, at all.

Unbeknownst to her husband Ben, Christine starts meeting with a doctor who is determined to help her regain some of her memories even though so many have failed in the past.  He encourages her to keep a journal and write down what happens to her, and what she learns about herself and her past, each and every day.  Each morning the doctor calls her to remind her where her journal is and that she should read it and write in it.  Christine decides to keep the journal a secret from Ben.  She isn’t sure exactly why, but as time goes on she begins to distrust her husband, and everyone else in her world.

If you enjoyed Still Missing by Chevy Stevens (my creepy pick of last year) I would suggest giving this one a try.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Iron House by John Hart

Iron House by John Hart

This top pick on the August IndieNext List (which if you haven’t checked out the website IndieBound – – why ever not?) has everything any great thriller should have.  There is heart pounding suspense, dark family histories, horribly dysfunctional childhoods and great action packed scenes.  Not to mention a new mafia boss, a hit man wanting to retire, a crooked (we think…) senator, an ill children’s book author and more.  This is one of those books you can’t put down because you want to see how all the factors the author brings together come together. 

I’m making this prediction here and now, John Hart is a name to watch.  His last book was great (The Last Child), this book is great, and I’m sure his next will be wonderful as well.  If you’re tired of series that seem to be rehashing the same storylines over and over (and getting their main characters in the same trouble again and again) and want a great standalone thriller every time try this guy.  You won’t be disappointed.