They were a mismatched pair. Lovell Hall and Hannah Monroe came from different worlds and different perspectives. She was born into a wealthy family wThey were a mismatched pair. Lovell Hall and Hannah Monroe came from different worlds and different perspectives. She was born into a wealthy family with numerous privileges and no responsibilities. He had to work for everything, and his mind was of a scientific bent, while she loved the arts and her work with flowers. She had no practical abilities, and often forgot to pay the bills.
Sixteen years later, they are no closer together, and, in fact, they are living parallel lives. Communication is scanty. Their two children, Janine, 15, and Ethan, 8, are the glue that hold them together…along with their memories of happier times.
One devastating night changes everything. They argue, they fight, but they stop short of physical violence. Just smashed glass and harsh words. But enough to change the course of their world.
The next day, Hannah goes missing, and it would be many months before answers come about what happened to her.
Lovell and Hannah are alternating narrators, and her voice comes to us at carefully timed intervals, revealing what happened that day, leading us through each moment.
Meanwhile, the family left behind is falling apart, with Janine acting out with curses, a shaved head, and total defiance. Even as I could understand her feelings, I found most of her behavior appalling. She was a hard character to tolerate.
Lovell had his own struggles holding it together, and often lashed out as well.
The Daylight Marriage was a portrayal of how a marriage can unravel slowly, and then devastatingly crumble in just a few moments. The characters felt like real people struggling to make the most of their differences, but failing miserably. A tense and engaging story that was unforgettable. 5 stars. ...more
It was a glamorous ten-year anniversary celebration in a Mexican resort, and Hunter and Caroline Shipley, along with friends and relatives, planned aIt was a glamorous ten-year anniversary celebration in a Mexican resort, and Hunter and Caroline Shipley, along with friends and relatives, planned a number of activities for that week. But on the last night, the babysitter did not show up, and a decision was made to leave the sleeping girls, Michelle and Samantha, ages five and two, in the room, just above their table outside…and they would check them every half hour. Hunter insisted, and Caroline went along with it.
But as all the best laid plans often go awry, that one certainly did, and a confluence of wrong things happened, leading to the kidnapping of two-year-old Samantha.
Now, fifteen years later, the trauma still follows them, with reporters showing up every time another year goes by. From the very beginning, Hunter presented well for the cameras, while Caroline’s stiff exterior made the press characterize her as cold and remote. She was vilified more than her husband, unfairly, in my opinion.
Caroline and Hunter divorce, and some of Hunter’s secrets surface, adding to the pain coursing through their lives.
But something unexpected happens in that fifteenth year. Caroline gets a call from a young girl who thinks she might be Samantha.
She’s Not There was a page-turning tale that swept back and forth in time, over the years, showing the lives of the characters, and reminding us of the pain that haunts them. Caroline blames herself for agreeing to leave the girls alone in the room when Hunter insisted on it; Michelle is belligerent and hateful most of the time, a sure sign of how events impacted her life, too. Could she be feeling overlooked? Invisible? Her behavior was annoying, but in the end, I came to feel more empathy for her.
Ultimately, I became suspicious of a number of people, and not totally stunned by the final revelations. How we learned of what happened that night did surprise me, however. I loved this story and could not stop reading it. 5 stars.
***My copy of the e-ARC came to me from the publishers via NetGalley.
Ellison Russell has just returned from a trip to Europe with her daughter Grace, and is hoping for a little normalcy in her life. Her husband’s murderEllison Russell has just returned from a trip to Europe with her daughter Grace, and is hoping for a little normalcy in her life. Her husband’s murder and a few other disastrous events have left her a bit stressed.
So she is attending a football game to root for her daughter and friends. Suddenly, she drops her lipstick under the bleachers. She starts digging around for it…after all, it was an expensive brand she bought in Paris. Imagine her surprise to discover a boy, who turns out to be Bobby Lowell, one of Grace’s friends, bleeding to death. He whispers to her: “Tell her I love her.”
Who did he mean? And who would have shot Bobby? These and other questions drive Ellison to do what she seems compelled to do: find answers.
But more bodies turn up before the end of Guaranteed to Bleed, along with a few disastrous secrets that could have motivated any number of people to kill Bobby and others. Why is Jonathan Hess, India’s new husband, and daughter Donna’s stepfather, such a bully, pushing his way into her home after a sleepover? What led Grace and Donna to run away, hiding out as if they have secrets they couldn’t tell?
The returning characters from Book One included Anarchy Jones, the homicide detective; Hunter Taftt, the attorney who has his eye on Ellison; her mother Frances, whose glares could wither anyone who crossed her; and Ellison’s best friend Libba.
Set in the 1970s, I enjoyed the reminders of that era like landlines and payphones, as well as mentions of Watergate and Nixon. The humorous and somewhat snarky voice of our first person narrator, Ellison, kept me turning pages, trying to guess what might happen next. Another delightful read from the author. 4.5 stars. ...more
Simply told but deeply affecting, in the bestselling tradition of Alice McDermott and Tom Perrotta, this urgent novel unravels the heartrending yet unSimply told but deeply affecting, in the bestselling tradition of Alice McDermott and Tom Perrotta, this urgent novel unravels the heartrending yet unsentimental tale of a woman who kidnaps a baby in a superstore—and gets away with it for twenty-one years.
While the idea of feeling anything but horror for such a woman would normally be a predominant one, I found myself empathizing with Lucy, the “kidnapper,” whose almost obsessive desire for a baby leads to such a horrific act. The author skillfully takes us through her thought processes, breaking them down into manageable moments that slowly turn into something almost palatable…and then, just when we think we can live with what she did, the repercussions start happening. Life comes undone.
With part of the story in Lucy’s voice, we come to understand her. But what about all those whose lives were damaged? We view the perspectives of Marilyn, the mother of the kidnapped child; other people in Lucy’s life; Mia herself; and more characters as the pages lead us to what happens after.
From Manhattan to California, and finally to China, the story unfolds into some surprising developments. The emotions that Mia feels upon learning of Lucy’s actions soon change as she realizes, finally, that she was who she was because of Lucy. And despite the biological connection with Marilyn, parts of her would always belong to the woman who raised her.
In some ways, the conclusion felt unfinished, as we are left not quite knowing what the outcome will be. But as we watch the pieces begin to coalesce, we are struck by how nothing is quite black and white, but in muted shades of gray. 4.5 stars.
Glen and Jean Taylor might have seemed like an ordinary couple at some point, but their lives in this tidy suburb of London have just gone off the raiGlen and Jean Taylor might have seemed like an ordinary couple at some point, but their lives in this tidy suburb of London have just gone off the rails.
A little girl named Bella Elliott has gone missing, and inexplicably, at least to Glen and Jean, he is the prime suspect. They are now hounded by police, reporters, and angry strangers. Hiding in their home is not even possible, once Glen is arrested and begins to stand trial. He is proclaiming his innocence, and Jean is standing by him.
In order to fully understand his point of view, of course, we have only to watch and wait, as various characters share their perspectives: Detective Bob Sparkes and his associates; reporter Kate Waters; the missing child’s mother, Dawn; and Jean herself.
The story moves back and forth through time, starting in the early years of the Taylor marriage, when the roles were set: Glen, the one in power, with Jean, the housewife and submissive one.
But things shifted at some point, perhaps when their childlessness became an issue. Jean is devastated about not having a baby, and Glen is the infertile one. Could Jean have somehow persuaded Glen to “get” the child for her? Is Bella the baby she has always wanted?
The focus on Glen has come about primarily because of the sighting of his van in the child's neighborhood around the time she was taken...and his Internet porn addiction.
When we are swept forward in time, to the present, something major has changed. Glen has been struck by a bus and killed. An accident? At any rate, now the police and reporters take a different tack. Maybe they can get Jean to talk. Maybe they can finally find Bella.
The past and the present finally converge and we are moving forward to a moment of enlightenment. What the police have “known” all along but couldn’t prove might finally be forthcoming.
Jean was a puzzling character. Sometimes she seemed like a victim, while at other times, I thought of her as sneaky and manipulative. Glen always felt like a predator, and his behavior seemed creepy and like that of a sociopath; in addition to denial of any wrong-doing, he adamantly maintained the persona of the innocent victim. I liked DI Bob Sparkes, but Kate Waters seemed to push her own agenda with the use of charm and by pretending to befriend her subject. She seemed untrustworthy, wanting to get the story, no matter what the consequences. The Widow was an intriguing story that had very little of mystery about it, except for the details of how it all went down. 4.5 stars.
*** An e-ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
An unexpected phone call turns the lives of Jack and Sarah Quinlan upside down. Their twin daughters, Emma and Elizabeth, are away at college, so theyAn unexpected phone call turns the lives of Jack and Sarah Quinlan upside down. Their twin daughters, Emma and Elizabeth, are away at college, so they are able to quickly arrange to leave their home in Larkspur, Montana, and to fly to Penny Gate, Iowa.
Jack’s Aunt Julia has taken a bad fall and is in critical condition. Soon, they learn that there is more to the story, and that Julia’s accident might not have been accidental.
But just when Sarah thinks she knows everything about her husband’s family, pieces of a strangely convoluted puzzle begin to fall into place, and she is forced to face that her husband has kept many secrets and told numerous lies. Why did Jack say that his parents died in a car accident, when in actuality, his mother had been murdered and his father, missing, was presumed to be the killer?
Meeting all the family members again, especially after the reporter part of Sarah’s personality leads her to the files from the case of Lydia Tierney, Jack’s mother, and more questions arise, she is also stunned to realize that Celia, married to Jack’s cousin Dean, was his serious girlfriend when they were teenagers. Another lie of omission.
So many suspects for both murders, like Amy, a troubled young woman and Jack’s sister; Dean, the angry cousin; and possibly even Jack. So who could have brought such violence into their lives?
When a series of threatening e-mails addressed to Sarah arrive, and the IP address is somewhere in Penny Gate, the threat becomes startlingly close to home. As the danger ratcheted up, it looked like nobody would walk away alive.
I was stunned by the denouement, as I had my eye on one particular suspect all along…and I was wrong. But I actually liked how it turned out, as the guilty character was very annoying. But what would happen to them all after the Missing Pieces are put together? Could they survive the emotional trauma? Definitely a 5 star read.
***My copy of an e-ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley. ...more
Living in her isolated cottage on the Saltmarsh near Kings Lynn, teaching classes at the university in Norfolk, and communing with nature during her aLiving in her isolated cottage on the Saltmarsh near Kings Lynn, teaching classes at the university in Norfolk, and communing with nature during her archeology digs…these activities are the core of Dr. Ruth Galloway’s somewhat solitary life.
Her social life is minimal, but she is content. Her two cats keep her company, and there are some nights out with her friend Shona. Her colleagues/friends from early days on digs and at university include mentor Erik Anderssen, and an ex-lover Peter. In her late thirties, she considers herself to be dumpy, but relatively attractive; her outward appearance does not concern her much, as her work is her primary focus.
But Ruth’s life is about to take a dramatic turn as she is swept up in a police investigation headed by DCI Harry Nelson, whose crew has discovered the bones of a child in the marsh. The detective believes the remains might belong to a small girl, Lucy Downey, who went missing ten years before. However, the discovery turns out to be an older burial from the Iron Age.
Bizarre letters with allusions to ritual sacrifices, as well as archeological, Biblical, and Shakespearean references, lead the hunt in a different direction…and then another girl goes missing.
The Crossing Places was a fascinating story that intrigued me mostly because of the characters involved and watching how they processed events and followed clues. Even their everyday lives and routines were fascinating as these ordinary moments added layers to the characters. Other characters were added to the canvas as the story continued, and by the suspenseful end, when catching a murderer became central to the story, I was ticking them off, one by one, as I couldn’t decide which, if any, of Ruth’s associates might be somehow involved. Not knowing who she could trust.
This first book in the series hooked me on the central characters, and by the final pages, I was eager for more as some hints at upcoming events had me checking out Book Two. 4.5 stars. ...more
Eighteen years ago, on Cooper Island in the San Juans, two young girls are targeted by a guest at the Aurora Point Hotel. When the man grabs one of thEighteen years ago, on Cooper Island in the San Juans, two young girls are targeted by a guest at the Aurora Point Hotel. When the man grabs one of them, Edith Chase, her grandmother, takes action, and what she does leads to them moving away and turning their back on the old hotel.
Now, shortly after her grandmother's death, Madeline has inherited the Sanctuary Creek chain of hotels. Jack Rayner, head of her security team, has just helped her deal with a personal problem, so when she gets a call from Tom Lomax, the caretaker on Cooper Island, the two of them head off to see what is happening.
When they arrive, they discover a whole series of problems, beginning with Tom’s murder. A missing briefcase linked to the long-ago secret lead to them finding Madeline’s friend and secret sister Daphne Knight in Denver, who has just discovered that someone ransacked her condo.
On the island, they are joined by Jack’s brother and partner Abe, and together begin sorting through the clues. How are the powerful Webster family, so-called “owners” of the island, connected to the events in the present? Do Egan and Louisa have secrets from the past, too? Are the sons Travis and Xavier involved? Explosions, murders, and many dastardly deeds turn up a slew of suspects, some more nefarious than the others. The story held plenty of suspense, a bit of romance, and a satisfactory resolution.
Secret Sisters was a twisted and somewhat convoluted tale that kept me rapidly turning pages, wondering how Jack and his associates would sort it all out. Even when I thought we had the bad guys identified, there were more loose ends that kept me reading. A perfect 5 star read, since I couldn’t stop reading…and hadn’t figured it all out until the end.
Roy and Betty met on an Internet dating site, in the final “chapters” of their lives. These two octogenarians seem like an unlikely combination, but tRoy and Betty met on an Internet dating site, in the final “chapters” of their lives. These two octogenarians seem like an unlikely combination, but they each have an agenda. His, to play his final con, and hers, perhaps, for companionship. Although as the pages turn, I sometimes wonder about that, as she seems perfectly content whenever he is away on one of his “business” trips.
They settle into her cute little cottage and he meets her children, who don’t like him at all. But Betty seems to blithely ignore their concerns.
He has a certain smarmy charm, but it is interesting to watch as the author peels back the layers, and he does this with time periods, too, taking the reader back to the nineties, then the seventies, the sixties, all the way back to the 30s. We see what makes Roy tick.
What is Roy’s endgame? Is it simply a financial situation for him? Or is there more to his plan? Why does Betty seem so passive, when many indicators suggest that she is smart and more aware than she lets on?
As the answers come, I am stunned by the intricacy of the plot and how it all unfolds. A very satisfying conclusion, although there were a few too many layers to keep my interest all the way through. I did enjoy arriving at the endgame, however. A 3.5 read. ...more
In October 2013, in Briarstone, DCI Louisa Smith is tasked with an investigation that went cold ten years before, but has now resurrected itself. A miIn October 2013, in Briarstone, DCI Louisa Smith is tasked with an investigation that went cold ten years before, but has now resurrected itself. A missing girl, Scarlett Rainsford, has reappeared and is in safekeeping in a hotel.
In August 2003, Scarlett disappeared one night from the apartments where her family was staying while vacationing in Greece. Her younger sister Juliette had no information to provide at the time of her disappearance, and neither did her parents, Clive and Annie.
But there was a lot more to the story, and much more was known by various characters. The bits and pieces would come together gradually, as we follow Scarlett’s narrative from the past and as it gradually moves forward. And in the narrative of Lou, as well as her staff member Sam Holland, the facts form and the clues lead to further answers.
Why was Juliette always reading and refusing to talk? How did Scarlett’s father punish her when she slipped away from his control? And why was Scarlett seemingly so willing to succumb to the control of the men who grabbed her?
I enjoyed the detective characters, like Lou and Sam, as well as Lou’s lover Jason, an analyst. They were all overburdened and struggling to find time for personal lives. I liked how they managed to somehow arrange for the occasional down time.
Themes of abuse, sex and drug trafficking, and the daily tasks of the detectives trying to sort through evidence and follow clues made Behind Closed Doors a compelling read. At first, the back and forth moments in time were confusing, but eventually I fell into the rhythm and looked forward to the onward progression over time. In the end, I had a sense of more answers to come, almost as if the story will continue, as there were some puzzling elements to decipher. 4.5 stars. ...more
From the very beginning of The Swans of Fifth Avenue, I was drawn into the era and the settings, almost as if I were right there with them.
It helped tFrom the very beginning of The Swans of Fifth Avenue, I was drawn into the era and the settings, almost as if I were right there with them.
It helped that I had seen movies set in those times and with those characters (Capote, and Infamous), in which we watch Truman Capote mixing it up with the glamourous creatures known as Swans.
They could all be BFFs, judging from the secrets they tell each other and the parties they attend together.
But what was Truman really up to with these women? Did they feed his ego, and then did he turn on them? What changed for Truman and the “Swans” after the success of In Cold Blood? Why did the publication of a specific short story turn all of their lives upside down?
The Swans included Babe Paley, wife of CBS owner Bill Paley; Pamela Churchill Hayward Harrison; Gloria Guinness; and Marcella Agnelli. Then there was C.Z., a Hitchcock blonde.
The author takes us into the private rooms of the characters, including some of their bedrooms, and despite Truman’s sexual orientation, at least one of the women lusted after him.
From the descriptions of the characters, they seem to spring to life on the pages, and we can almost hear the lively conversations, the giggles, and the secret-telling. We can definitely see the gorgeous rooms and clothes, and feel like we’re at the parties with them.
A fictionalized tale based on real people, the story was one that drew me in, even as I had the sense of foreboding that comes when people share too much of their hidden selves with those who could betray them.
And as their lives changed after the betrayal, some of them would still look back on those moments when they were caught up in a kind of swan dance, brilliant and beautiful and happy. And they would put another spin on events, allowing themselves to remember the luminescence. 5 stars.
*** I received this e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.
Laurie Moran is pondering several topics for her next TV special on Under Suspicion, when a bereaved mother, Sandra Pierce, pleads her case. Her daughLaurie Moran is pondering several topics for her next TV special on Under Suspicion, when a bereaved mother, Sandra Pierce, pleads her case. Her daughter Amanda disappeared five years ago on the night before her wedding in Palm Beach, Florida, and she still doesn’t know whether she is dead or alive.
When Laurie makes the pitch to her boss, Brett Young, he is reluctant…but then he is caught up in the idea of the wonderful setting and wealthy participants, so he gives the go-ahead.
After finding all the relatives and friends who were at the resort and gaining their participation, Laurie and her co-producer Alex Buckley, start gathering their information.
All Dressed in White was an engaging page-turner with a plethora of suspects, all of whom could have killed or kidnapped Amanda. Jeff Hunter, the fiancé, could be one. Or Amanda’s best friend Meghan White, who married Jeff only eighteen months after her disappearance. Then there is her jealous sister Charlotte…
Or the creepy photography intern who seems to stalk those he wants to capture on film.
While there was no shortage of suspects, it was impossible for me to guess the identity of the perpetrator until the very end. And then it was almost too late. Short chapters and tense prose kept me rapidly reading, satisfied by the denoument, even as I wondered what Laurie’s next case would be…and whether or not she and Alex would find their own happy ending. 4.5 stars. ...more