June 2024


Bradbury, BettinaCaroline’s Dilemma
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Andrews, BrianTom Clancy act of defiance
Downes, AnnaRed River Road
Fraser, CaroA touch of silk
Furnivall, KateChild of the ruins
Grisham, JohnCamino Ghosts
James, EricaAn ideal husband
July, MirandaAll fours
Keyes, MarianMy favourite mistake
Koch, C. J.Highways to a war
Kwan, KevinLies and weddings
O’Hagan, AndrewCaledonian Road
Purman, VictoriaThe radio hour
Reid, Taylor JenkinsCarrie Soto is back
Roberts, NoraMind games
Steel, DanielleOnly the brave
Stewart, CameronWhy do horses run?
Susberry, EmbassieCode name butterfly
Tóibín, ColmLong Island
Towles, AmorTable for two

Red River Road by Anna Downes

Katy’s sister Phoebe has vanished into thin air on a solo trip around Australia. Determined to find her when no one else can, Katy sets off in a van just like Phoebe’s, all on her own, just like Phoebe, following the exact path Phoebe did. (Sound like a bad idea to anyone else, or is that just me?) On the first night of her journey, Katy leaves the campsite, scared, possibly drunk and/or drugged and somehow manages not to kill herself on a lonely Western Australian highway. Having pulled to the side of the road, she accidentally picks up another lone woman, Beth, who is on the run, desperate and lying about pretty much everything. Together, Katy and Beth join forces to keep each other safe and to track down Phoebe. In the meantime, teenager Wyatt is stuck at home in a remote town, missing his mother and watching horror movies. It is his older brother Lucas who Beth is hiding from, and his mother is another woman who disappeared without a trace, just like Phoebe did. As the two young women continue their journey, collecting clues and disinformation along the way, they are heading straight for Wyatt’s home and his monstrous family. Written from the points of view of Katy, Beth, and Wyatt, this taut psychological thriller ensures the reader never truly knows who to believe. Phoebe’s descriptions of each place she stopped at along the way, which are interspersed as social media posts and include comments from potential suspects in her disappearance, give a real sense of place and insight into the world of those who #vanlife. Readings, April 2024

Camino Ghosts by John Grisham

A descendant of enslaved people fights a Florida developer over the future of a small island. In 1760, the slave ship Venus breaks apart in a storm on its way to Savannah, and only a few survivors, all Africans, find their way safely to a tiny barrier island between Florida and Georgia. For two centuries, only formerly enslaved people and their descendants live there. A curse on white people hangs over the island, and none who ever set foot on it survive. Its last resident was Lovely Jackson, who departed as a teen in 1955. Today—well, in 2020—a developer called Tidal Breeze wants Florida’s permission to “develop” Dark Isle, which sits within bridge-building distance from the well-established Camino Island. The plot is an easy setup for Grisham, big people vs. little people. Lovely’s revered ancestors are buried on Dark Isle, which Hurricane Leo devastated from end to end. Lovely claims the islet’s ownership despite not having formal title, and she wants white folks to leave the place alone. But apparently Florida doesn’t have enough casinos and golf courses to suit some people. Surely developers can buy off that little old Black lady with a half million bucks. No? How about a million? “I wish they’d stop offering money,” Lovely complains. “I ain’t for sale.” Thus a non-jury court trial begins to establish ownership. The story has no legal fireworks, just ordinary maneuvering. The real fun is in the backstory, in the portrayal of the aptly named Lovely, and the skittishness of white people to step on the island as long as the ancient curse remains. Lovely has self-published a history of the island, and a sympathetic white woman named Mercer Mann decides to write a nonfiction account as well. When that book ultimately comes out, reviewers for Kirkus (and others) “raved on and on.” Don’t expect stunning twists, though early on Dark Isle gives four white guys a stark message. The tension ends with the judge’s verdict, but the remaining 30 pages bring the story to a satisfying conclusion. Fine Grisham storytelling that his fans will enjoy. Kirkus Reviews, March 2024

All Fours by Miranda July

A woman set to embark on a cross-country road trip instead drives to a nearby motel and becomes obsessed with a local man. According to Harris, the husband of the narrator of July’s novel, everyone in life is either a Parker or a Driver. “Drivers,” Harris says, “are able to maintain awareness and engagement even when life is boring.” The narrator knows she’s a Parker, someone who needs “a discrete task that seems impossible, something…for which they might receive applause.” For the narrator, a “semi-famous” bisexual woman in her mid-40s living in Los Angeles, this task is her art; it’s only by haphazard chance that she’s fallen into a traditional straight marriage and motherhood. When the narrator needs to be in New York for work, she decides on a solo road trip as a way of forcing herself to be more of a metaphorical Driver. She makes it all of 30 minutes when, for reasons she doesn’t quite understand, she pulls over in Monrovia. After encountering a man who wipes her windows at a gas station and then chats with her at the local diner, she checks in to a motel, where she begins an all-consuming intimacy with him. For the first time in her life, she feels truly present. But she can only pretend to travel so long before she must go home and figure out how to live the rest of a life that she—that any woman in midlife—has no map for. July’s novel is a characteristically witty, startlingly intimate take on Dante’s “In the middle of life’s journey, I found myself in a dark wood”—if the dark wood were the WebMD site for menopause and a cheap room at the Excelsior Motel. This tender, strange treatise on getting out from the “prefab structures” of a conventional life is quintessentially July. Kirkus Reviews, March 2024

Highways To a War by C. J. Koch

A desperate tale of love and heroism, set mostly in Cambodia during the rise of the Khmer Rouge, from the Australian author of the novel and classic independent film The Year of Living Dangerously (1979). As the story opens in 1976, Mike Langford, a Tasmanian photojournalist whose war coverage has become internationally famous, is reported dead inside Cambodia. Almost simultaneously, back in peaceful Tasmania, Langford’s oldest friend—known here only as Ray—receives a collection of tapes that Langford recorded over the years, an “audio diary” chronicling his career from his apprentice days in Singapore through his coverage of the Vietnam War and the Cambodian civil war that followed. Using the tapes, Ray tells his old friend’s story, letting the tale fall into the third person even as he flies to Thailand to find out what happened. We never learn of Langford’s fate with certainty, however, since Koch opts to transform him into a mythical figure, an eternal soldier. Part of Langford’s tragedy is that in midlife he at last finds a woman he deeply loves, but she, like everything else that might have addressed the sorrow that he has borne since his terrible childhood, will be taken from him. She is Cambodian and opposes the Khmer Rouge; Langford probably perishes trying to extract her from danger. Also figuring prominently is Langford’s Chinese friend Jim Feng, who reveres Langford for his fearlessness and honesty. Koch’s Australian perspective is illuminating and fresh throughout, but his best scenes are inside Cambodia, as Langford tries to get the word out about the Khmer Rouge holocaust at a time when most Western journalists are in denial. The evocation of the Cambodian landscape, strewn with bodies, is truly haunting. Koch’s complicated point of view seems mechanical at times, but on the whole he’s given us an absorbing, deeply moving story. Kirkus Reviews, May 2010

Lies and Weddings by Kevin Kwan

Let us not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments. Or, maybe let’s. In his second follow-up to the blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, Kwan continues to wrap fairy-tale love stories in glitz, glamour, couture, fine art, and delicious wit. (It’s possible that the author is on a diet because the food component seems slightly less dominant than usual.) This time, our star-crossed lovers are Rufus Gresham, Viscount St. Ives, a man whose beauty has been driving women to distraction since he was photographed in his boxers ironing a dress shirt at age 16, and Eden Tong, a young doctor who lives with her widowed father on the family property at Greshamsbury Hall. Though Rufus has been madly in love and planning to marry Eden since childhood, he is about to run into a solid wall of opposition from his mother, Lady Arabella. Since she and Lord Gresham have managed to drain the family coffers, she is determined to save the family by having each of her three children marry serious money. But right from the start, when an active volcano interrupts the wedding of daughter Augusta to Scandinavian royalty, things don’t go her way. Often hilarious epigraphs and fourth-wall-breaking footnotes include this: “Founded in 1875 in Venice, Tessitura Luigi Bevilacqua was also the official supplier of precious fabrics to the Vatican until Pope Paul VI decided to tighten the belt on luxury goods. (This would explain the pillows from Target I saw in the waiting room during my last audience with the Pope.)” One also enjoys the gossip articles, invitations, and menus sprinkled through the text, and the little icons used to signal location changes—Hawaii hibiscus, London Big Ben, Greshamsbury tea set, Houston oil derrick, etc.—are adorable. Still more brilliant escapism among Kwan’s 1 percenters. Too much is never enough. Kirkus Reviews, January 2024

Caledonian Road by Andrew O’Hagan

I found Mayflies, Andrew O’Hagan’s last novel, such a cosy read about youth, music, and everlasting friendships. Here, in Caledonian Road, he tackles similar themes, but ‘cosiness’ is not an adjective to use for this story. Instead, I would consider ‘provocative’. Through many different characters, O’Hagan gives you a straight appraisal of the mess we are all in by centring the story around one middle-aged white man: Campbell Flynn, an English author, art historian, and commentator. Over the course of a year, family man Flynn finds new connections amid his work and friends, and insights into the means by which power and freedom are sourced. This is such a complex novel, with an array of so many characters that there is a detailed cast appendix included. The novel is divided into five sections, and each section, much like the excellent television show The Wire or even Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, illustrates how seemingly innocuous acts or friendships have an impact on everyone else. Each decision noted has a sizeable consequence and as Flynn begins to connect the dots, his world starts to epically fall apart. This grand novel has been written to ask you what privilege means, why policy decisions are so often based in racism, how poverty disrupts, where possessing art is ego, and how money is hidden. And when your number is up …Andrew O’Hagan is one of the world’s most accomplished and beautiful writers. This remarkable novel runs for over 600 pages and takes a kaleidoscope view of the global situation we are all experiencing. This novel is why we read: to examine how we live, and why. It asks us to be better, and yet also shows us that intention is not enough. Readings, March 2024

Carrie Soto is back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A retired tennis player returns to the game to defend her Grand Slam record. Carrie Soto is the best tennis player in the world, and she knows it. Her father, Javier, is a former tennis champion himself, and he’s dedicated his life to coaching her. By the time she retires in 1989, she holds the record for winning 20 Grand Slam singles titles. But then, in 1994, Nicki Chan comes along. Nicki is on the verge of breaking Carrie’s record, and Carrie decides she can’t let that happen: She’s coming out of retirement, with her father coaching her, to defend her record…and her reputation. Carrie was never a friendly player, preferring to focus on both a brutal game and brutal honesty, and now the media has a field day with her return to the sport as a 37-year-old. At times, it seems like everyone is waiting for her to fail, but when Carrie wants something, she doesn’t give up easily. Along the way, she reconnects with Bowe Huntley, a 39-year-old tennis player she once had a fling with. Now they need to help each other train, but Carrie quickly realizes she might need him for more than just tennis—if she can let herself be vulnerable for the first time in her life. Reid writes about the game with suspense, transforming a tennis match into a page-turner even for readers who don’t care about sports. Will Carrie win? And, more importantly, will she finally make time for a life outside of winning? Reid has scored another victory and created another memorable heroine with Carrie Soto, a brash, often unlikable character whose complexity makes her leap off the page. Sports commentators may call her “The Battle Axe” or worse, but readers will root for her both on and off the court. A compulsively readable look at female ambition. Kirkus Reviews, July 2022

Mind Games by Nora Roberts

Roberts’ latest may move you to tears, or joy, or dread, or all three. Every summer, John and Cora Fox visit Cora’s mother, Lucy Lannigan, in Redbud Hollow, Kentucky, leaving their children, 12-year-old Thea and 10-year-old Rem, for a two-week taste of heaven. The children love Grammie Lucy far more than John’s snooty family, which looks down on Cora. Lucy, a healer with deep Appalachian roots, loves animals, cooks the best meals, plays musical instruments, and makes soap and candles for her thriving business. Thea—who’s inherited the psychic abilities passed down through the women of Lucy’s family—has vivid magical dreams, one of which becomes a living nightmare when a psychopath robs and murders John and Cora as Thea watches helplessly. Thea’s description of the killer and her ability to see him in real time help the skeptical police catch Ray Riggs, who goes to prison for life. Although Thea and Rem go on to have a wonderful childhood with Grammie, Thea constantly wages a mental battle with Riggs, who tries to use his own psychic abilities to get into her mind. Over the years, Thea uses her imagination to become a game designer while the more business-minded Rem helps manage her career. Thea eventually builds a house near Lucy, where a newly arrived neighbor is her teen crush, singer-songwriter Tyler Brennan. Tyler has his own issues and is protective of his young son but slowly builds a loving relationship with Thea, whose silence about her abilities leads to a devastating misunderstanding. At first Thea tries to keep Riggs locked out of her mind. As her powers grow, she torments him. Finally, she realizes that she must win this battle and destroy him if she’s ever to have peace. A touching story of love and grief ends in an epic battle of good versus evil. Kirkus Reviews, March 2024

Why Do Horses Run? by Cameron Stewart

Cameron Stewart asks many things in this novel, most pensively: what does it take to walk away from one life to another? He asks us to consider how grief and loss can separate people but also bring others together. While asking these questions, he draws the Australian environment around his characters, allowing it to become its own entity, its own being. In that way, the story is an ode to novels by Henry Lawson, Patrick White and Alexis Wright. The story centres on Ingvar, a type of shadowy swagman walking through Australia until he rests at the foot of a hill on Hilda’s tropical property. Hilda, newly widowed, is righteous and grieving, but accepts him on to her property, allowing him respite from his travels and space to ruminate on his choices. She has little contact with other people but keeps up a steady dialogue with her dead husband. Further in town, Ingvar meets other residents, kind people, and his experiences with this community only heighten all that he has left. The Australian hinterland is ever-present with leeches and ferns, bird song and heat, wild pigs and ticks alongside long, winding roads and the generosity of strangers. The bewitchingly slow and steady pace of this story allows us to consider the price we pay for love and absolution. It is a quiet novel, one that was surely created for you to consider your own expectations of resilience and despair. This unusual novel is Stewart’s first and is a disarming read. I have not encountered anything like it for a long time and it has stayed with me now for some time. It is for readers with time. Why Do Horses Run? is a novel that reminds you not to judge. Readings, April 2024 

Long Island by Colm Toibin

An acclaimed novelist revisits the central characters of his best-known work. At the end of Brooklyn (2009), Eilis Lacey departed Ireland for the second and final time—headed back to New York and the Italian American husband she had secretly married after first traveling there for work. In her hometown of Enniscorthy, she left behind Jim Farrell, a young man she’d fallen in love with during her visit, and the inevitable gossip about her conduct. Tóibín’s 11th novel introduces readers to Eilis 20 years later, in 1976, still married to Tony Fiorello and living in the titular suburbia with their two teenage children. But Eilis’ seemingly placid existence is disturbed when a stranger confronts her, accusing Tony of having an affair with his wife—now pregnant—and threatening to leave the baby on their doorstep. “She’d known men like this in Ireland,” Tóibín writes. “Should one of them discover that their wife had been unfaithful and was pregnant as a result, they would not have the baby in the house.” This shock sends Eilis back to Enniscorthy for a visit—or perhaps a longer stay. (Eilis’ motives are as inscrutable as ever, even to herself.) She finds the never-married Jim managing his late father’s pub; unbeknownst to Eilis (and the town), he’s become involved with her widowed friend Nancy, who struggles to maintain the family chip shop. Eilis herself appears different to her old friends: “Something had happened to her in America,” Nancy concludes. Although the novel begins with a soap-operatic confrontation—and ends with a dramatic denouement, as Eilis’ fate is determined in a plot twist worthy of Edith Wharton—the author is a master of quiet, restrained prose, calmly observing the mores and mindsets of provincial Ireland, not much changed from the 1950s. A moving portrait of rueful middle age and the failure to connect. Kirkus Reviews, March 2024

Table for Two by Amor Towles

In his first collection, Towles sequel-izes his debut novel, Rules of Civility (2011), with a 200-page novella and adds six short fictions involving unlikely encounters and unexpected outcomes. Set in the late 1930s, the novella, Eve in Hollywood, extends the story of Evelyn Ross, nervy sidekick of Rules protagonist Katey Kontent. On a train from New York to Los Angeles, the flinty, facially scarred blond, impulsively rejecting a return to her home in Indiana, strikes up a friendship with widowed former homicide cop Charlie Granger. They meet months later in L.A. when Eve’s cutely met new friend, starlet Olivia de Havilland, is blackmailed over surreptitiously taken nude photos. In classic noir fashion, an untrustworthy man of significant girth is at the heart of the plot. The book’s other lively pairings include a used bookseller and a young would-be writer who finds his calling forging signatures of famous authors for him (Paul Auster plays a key role); a newly committed concertgoer and an older patron who drives him to distraction by secretly recording the music; and two travelers stranded at the airport who share a cab ride to a hotel, where one of them transforms from a harmless nice guy into a raging alcoholic and the other attempts to drag him away from the bar on desperately phoned orders from the man’s wife. Towles has fun leaping ahead with his narratives. In a cruel twist of fate, a peasant in late-czarist Russia pays a price for daring to profit from holding people’s places on excessively long food lines in Moscow. Towles sometimes lays on the philosophical wisdom and historical knowledge a bit, but the novella and all the stories are treated to his understated (and occasionally mischievous) irony. A sneakily entertaining assortment of tales. Kirkus Reviews, January 2024

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Bennett, Julie MThe lost letters of Rose Carey
Chater, LaurenThe beauties
De Tores, FrancescaSaltblood
Iggulden, ConnNero
Keneally, MegFree
Mina, DeniseThree fires
Stokes-Chapman, SusanThe shadow key
Verghese, A.The covenant of water

The Lost Letters of Rose Carey by Julie Bennett

Inspired by the life of the Australian swimmer and film icon Annette Kellerman, The Lost Letters of Rose Carey follows two heroines: Emma Quinn, in the present time, and Rose Carey, in the 1920s. These stories link when videographer Emma discovers a box containing vintage film and a series of handwritten letters. As the reader dives into each protagonist’s story, we read about a series of mysterious events that make this novel a true page-turner. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy discovering a time when artistic swimming was just beginning in Australia, and the obstacles Rose Carey, a woman ahead of her time, had to face to bring it to popularity. Julie Bennett’s second book explores themes of betrayal and friendship, as well as Emma’s heart-breaking reality of trying to conceive through IVF and the toll it takes on her same-sex relationship. Bennett brings to life two fierce heroines whose motivations are completely believable. The story is told with first-person perspectives from both Rose and Emma, but these are two very distinctive voices, linked by a strong feminist tone. Bennett’s biggest accomplishment, however, is raising enough conflict in each protagonist’s journey, taking the reader on a rollercoaster ride through the ups and downs of triumph and tragedy until the end. This is a must-read book for fans of Kate Morton and Natasha Lester and those who enjoy a story that develops through bittersweet, passionate, and deeply moving letters. Books+Publishing, March 2024

Saltblood by Francesca de Tores

Saltblood is an engrossing, deeply felt historical novel by Melbourne poet, author and academic Francesca de Tores (with previous works published as Francesca Haig), fictionalising the life of pirate Mary Read. Set in the early 1700s, the novel follows England-born Mary from early infancy until death, with de Tores effectively drawing on the classic Bildungsroman and picaresque genres to structure Mary’s story. To secure inheritance money, Mary’s mother disguises the toddler Mary as her half-brother Mark, who died of flux soon after Mary’s birth. Thus begins Mary/Mark’s dual identity. She continues to live as a boy into her adolescence and adulthood, serving as a footman, a sailor, a soldier, and eventually a pirate. De Tores’s portrayal of Mary is nuanced and riveting, and her prose feels both historically accurate and gorgeously poetic. There are elements of startling beauty in Saltblood: the silent, loyal crow that befriends and shadows Mary, the visceral observations Mary makes about her lover Anne Bonny, and the vividness of Mary’s constant ache to return to the sea. Mary’s career as a pirate is a joy to read, as is her friendship with the charismatic Captain Jack ‘Calico’ Rackham. Through this rambunctious life of piracy, a more self-assured Mary emerges, one who rejects the need to choose between Mark and Mary, and instead exists authentically as herself. Books+Publishing, March 2024

Nero by Conn Iggulden

A sweeping novel of ancient Rome and the early days of Nero. To borrow a philosopher’s phrase opining on another era, life in ancient Rome was nasty, brutish, and short—and being on top of the heap didn’t seem to help much. In the year 37 CE, the brutal Emperor Tiberius is dying. Agrippina is related to him by marriage and has a young son, Lucius, who will one day become known as Nero. Sit back and enjoy—or cringe at—this bloody tale that is littered with the bodies of the powerful, the ambitious, and the innocent. The story roughly follows Agrippina and her son, Lucius, who carry cruelty in their genes. She, for example, poisons her husband, Italus, a centurion who seems only to have treated her well. When the wretched Tiberius dies, Agrippina’s brother becomes emperor. He is Gaius Julius Caesar, nicknamed Caligula, or Little Boots, and he is “quite mad…as dangerous as any scorpion.” “It was death to touch” Caligula, even to rescue him from a dangerous fall. He exiles his sister on a vague suspicion, but after she eventually returns, she marries his uncle Claudius, who spits on his nephew’s corpse. In time, she and Lucius accompany Claudius on his campaign to conquer Britannia. Then—no spoiler, this—Agrippina tells the lad that one day he’ll be Emperor Nero. The novel seems to follow historical events as accurately as possible, considering the passing of two millennia. “Life was violence,” and so at times was birth, as in one horrific scene with Caligula’s son. The fact that Nero murders his mom will have to wait for a sequel. Splendid storytelling about ambition, cruelty, and power. Kirkus Reviews, April 2024

The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese

Three generations of a South Indian family are marked by passions and peccadillos, conditions and ambitions, interventions both medical and divine. “Where the sea meets white beach, it thrusts fingers inland to intertwine with the rivers snaking down the green canopied slopes of the Ghats. It is a child’s fantasy world of rivulets and canals, a latticework of lakes and lagoons, a maze of backwaters and bottle-green lotus ponds; a vast circulatory system because, as her father used to say, all water is connected.” Verghese’s narrative mirrors the landscape it is set in, a maze of connecting storylines and biographies so complex and vast that it’s almost a little crazy. But as one of the characters points out, “You can’t set out to achieve your goals without a little madness.” The madness begins in 1900, when a 12-year-old girl is married off to a widower with a young son. She will be known as Ammachi, “little mother,” before she’s even a teenager. Her life is the central stream that flows through the epic landscape of this story, in which drowning is only the most common of the disastrous fates Verghese visits on his beloved characters—burning, impaling, leprosy, opium addiction, hearing loss, smallpox, birth defects, political fanaticism, and so much more, though many will also receive outsized gifts in artistic ability, intellect, strength, and prophecy. As in the bestselling and equally weighty Cutting for Stone (2009), the fiction debut by Verghese (who’s also a physician), the medical procedures and advances play a central role—scenes of hand surgery and brain surgery are narrated with the same enthusiastic detail as scenes of lovemaking. A few times along this very long journey one may briefly wonder, Is all this really necessary? What a joy to say it is, to experience the exquisite, uniquely literary delight of all the pieces falling into place in a way one really did not see coming. As Ammachi is well aware by the time she is a grandmother in the 1970s, “A good story goes beyond what a forgiving God cares to do: it reconciles families and unburdens them of secrets whose bond is stronger than blood.” By God, he’s done it again. Kirkus Reviews, January 2023

Three fires by Denise Mina

Mina (Rizzio) fictionalizes the life of Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola (1452–1498), who was executed for heresy, in this vivid historical thriller. The novel opens in 1498 Florence, with Savonarola reading a coerced confession stating that he’s been lying about having the gift of prophecy. It then flashes back nearly 30 years, to when Savonarola’s hopes for marriage and a successful career as a physician are dashed, setting him on the path to religious fanaticism. Even readers who know what comes next— namely, the 1497 Bonfire of the Vanities, in which Savonarola and his followers burned books and clothes and other “extravagances” all across Florence—will be captivated by Mina’s lyricism (reading his confession to the assembled crowd, Savonarola sees “the dust motes swimming aimlessly in the warm air above their heads and imagines that each speck is an iota of faith leaving a person in the room”) and the insightful connections she draws between medieval ideological battles and 21st-century culture wars. This is a triumph. Publisher’s Weekly, June 2023


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Bennett, MichaelReturn to blood
Bull, JessicaMiss Austen investigates
Clark, Mary HigginsIt had to be you
Coben, HarlanThink twice
Connolly, JohnThe instruments of darkness
Coughlan, ClaireWhere they lie
Douglas, ClaireThe wrong sister
Frear, CazFive bad deeds
Griffiths, EllyThe last word
Hall, J. M.A clock stopped dead
Hawkins, AlisA bitter remedy
James, PeterThey thought I was dead
Mina, DeniseThree fires
Patterson, JamesThe Russian
St. James, SimoneMurder road
Strawhan, GavinThe call
Thorpe, AlexanderDeath holds the key
Tintera, AmyListen for the lie
Tudor, C. J.The gathering

Return to blood by Michael Bennett

Two decades after Māori detective Hana Westerman investigated the killing of a young woman whose body was found in the dunes of New Zealand’s Tātā Bay, Hana’s daughter discovers the bones of another young woman in the same patch of sand. Tormented by the first case, which ended with what likely was the wrongful conviction of a former gang member who died in prison, Hana quit the Auckland police force and moved back home to Tātā Bay to escape “the darkness.” But given a chance to revisit that case, she becomes determined to find the killer of the recent victim, Kiri, a troubled teen who disappeared four years ago. Lacking the authority to pursue the truth in an official capacity, the ex-cop receives only mixed support from former colleagues including her ex-husband and a female detective to whom she must prove that the same killer took the lives of both women. The darkness she fled envelopes her entire family, including her ailing adoptive father, who has always believed the ex-gang member was innocent, and her daughter, Addison. Boasting a multilayered protagonist, this sequel to Bennett’s debut, Better the Blood (2023), immerses itself in Māori culture, ranging from mysticism to the “unavoidable tension” between traditional and modern lawmaking in New Zealand. Bennett, a successful Māori filmmaker, may spend more time than is necessary on Addison’s fraught relationships with her nonbinary partner and her former boyfriend. But everyone is an integral part of the same ethnic fabric; in this smart, beguiling, and ultimately surprising mystery, their ties matter. A skilfully rendered Māori crime story. Kirkus Reviews, March 2024

Miss Austen investigates by Jessica Bull

Murder rattles the close-knit Austen family. The winter before she turns 20 seems promising for young Jane Austen. Her flirtation with Irish law student Tom Lefroy has grown more serious, and she hopes the announcement of Jonathan Harcourt’s betrothal to Sophy Rivers, which she anticipates hearing at the Harcourts’ ball, will prompt young Tom to ask for her hand. But the festivities end abruptly when a chambermaid finds the body of a young woman stashed in a laundry closet. The late Madame Renault, a merchant from overseas who sold hats in the Basingstoke market, was clearly killed by a blow to the head. But it’s much less clear who wielded the heavy metal pan. At Lord Harcourt’s urging, Magistrate Richard Craven first blames vagabonds living on the Harcourt estate. When no vagrants are found, Craven’s eyes shift toward George Austen, Jane’s intellectually disabled older brother. Georgy’s come into possession of a gold and seed pearl chain belonging to Madame Renault, and even though Craven knows that the nonverbal young man is an unlikely killer, he charges him with grand larceny, a capital crime. The Austens can’t decide which fate would be worst for Georgy: allowing him to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, a plea that would consign him to an asylum for the rest of his life; throwing him on the mercy of the court in hope that he’d be transported to Australia, where he would certainly be unable to care for himself; or allowing him to be hanged. If Jane can identify the real killer, however, the court will have to release her brother, and Madame Renault will receive the justice she deserves. Paints a lively picture of Austen-family dynamics that offers little insight into the writer Jane will become. Kirkus Reviews, January 2024

It had to be you by Mary Higgins Clark

Burke continues, and continues to update, the late Mary Higgins Clark’s bestselling series about true-crime TV producer Laurie Moran. The celebration of twins Simon and Ethan Harrington’s college graduations 10 years ago was curdled when longtime babysitter/dogwalker Jenna Merrick entered the family’s Cape Cod vacation home a few hours later to find the place deserted except for the bodies of Sarah and Richard Harrington, the twins’ parents, turning the site from a party scene to a crime scene. The security cameras on the property were mostly down, but once Howard Carver, Richard’s law partner, told Harbor Bay police chief Jerry Collins that he’d seen one of the twins leaving the house soon after the murders, Collins never seriously considered other suspects. Jimmy Connolly, the hardware store owner whose daughter, Annabeth, married Ethan, got his old pal Collins to suppress a crucial piece of evidence, and no charges were brought. But now that uppity podcaster Lydia Martindale is pressing the family to celebrate the anniversary of this horror by talking to her, Frankie Harrington, the twins’ younger sister, approaches Laurie, who oversees the celebrated Under Suspicion television series, in hopes of laying the cold case to rest for good. It’s no easy task to get the Harrington brothers aboard, along with Walter Ward, Richard’s other partner, and his wife, Betsy, who took in Frankie when her parents were killed. And then the revelations begin. Burke complicates Clark’s trademark damsel-in-distress decorum with disclosures about cheating, loan sharking, partner abuse, and other dysfunctional family secrets that seriously undermine her title because it could be almost anybody. In the closing words of one character: “Not all crimes are a black and white story of good versus evil.” Kirkus Reviews, March 2024

Five bad deeds by Caz Frear

“Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences,” begins the letter that changes Ellen Walsh’s life. This might as well be the tagline for the novel. While Ellen might not be the perfect mom, she checks most of the boxes, most of the time. She’s got the successful husband, the designer bling, and the idyllic small-town life, complete with a house undergoing expensive renovations (financed by the in-laws) to become her dream home. If she might snap at her kids or overindulge in wine from time to time—well, who wouldn’t, with a hostile teenage daughter and a set of 4-year-old twins? But Ellen’s secrets run deeper than the occasional, regrettable Facebook selfie-under-the-influence. She may be responsible for destroying her friend’s marriage. She may have had a hand in her model sister’s career-ending accident. And she definitely chose to keep the high school student she’s tutoring a secret from her husband. So when Ellen receives an anonymous letter from someone intent on tormenting her for her perceived “crimes,” she knows she has a lot to lose. Trying to uncover the culprit and avoid exposure, Ellen instead finds herself humiliated and discredited at every turn. While Frear’s exploration of the darker side of motherhood and the trappings of affluent domestic “achievement” for white women seems to follow the recent trend in thrillers, the characters and the mystery itself are elevated by expert pacing; snappy, believable dialogue; and colorful metaphors (“Kristy always had a mouth like a rusty machete”). As a commentary on what some people will sacrifice for social status and the long-reaching consequences of childhood trauma, the novel is a psychological triumph. Well-plotted and deliciously edgy. Kirkus Reviews, September 2023

The Last Word by Elly Griffiths

Is a writer’s workshop the nexus for murder? That’s the question three sleuths have to answer before more names are added to the list of dead authors. Former BBC presenter Edwin Fitzgerald may be the oldest detective in England, but he and his business partner, Ukrainian math wizard and caregiver Natalka Kolisnyk, have solved several murders with some help from DI Harbinder Kaur. Natalka’s life partner, ex-monk Benedict Cole, owns the Coffee Shack in Shoreham, where they share an apartment with Natalka’s mother, who fled Ukraine while her son remained behind to fight. Edwin and Natalka are hired by two sisters whose romance-writing mother has just died—murdered, they insist, by her second husband. When Benedict’s friend Father Richard Fraser drops by with the news that his longtime friend Father Don led a double life, writing romances as Donna Parsons, and may have been murdered, it’s the first hint that someone may be killing writers. Intrigued, Natalka asks Harbinger to run some names through the police database. Sure enough, another dead author turns up. All the deaths have been put down to natural causes, but Edwin is suspicious when he finds ties they shared, especially attendance at a writer’s workshop at Battle House. After Edwin and Benedict sign up for a session, one of the attendees drowns in a lake on the property, reinforcing their feeling that something is very wrong. Beautifully written and intricately plotted, with a surprisingly dystopian reason for murder. Kirkus Reviews, April 2024.

Listen for the lie by Amy Tintera

Against her better judgment, Lucy Chase returns to her hometown of Plumpton, Texas, for her grandmother’s birthday, knowing full well that almost everyone in town still believes she murdered her best friend five years ago, when they were in their early 20s. Coincidentally—or is it?—Ben Owens, a true-crime podcaster, is also in town, interviewing Lucy’s family and former friends about the murder of Savannah Harper, “just the sweetest girl you ever met,” who died from several violent blows to the head. Lucy was found hours later covered in blood, with no memory of what happened. She was—and is—a woman with secrets, which has not endeared her to the people of Plumpton; their narrative is that she was always violent, secretive, difficult. But Ben wants to tell Lucy’s story; attractive and relentless, he uncovers new evidence and coaxes new interviews, and people slowly begin to question whether Lucy is truly guilty. Lucy, meanwhile, lets down her guard, and as she and Ben draw closer together, she has to finally face the truth of her past and unmask the murderer of her complicated, gorgeous, protective friend. Most of the novel is told from Lucy’s point of view, which allows for a natural unspooling of the layers of her life and her story. She’s strong, she’s prickly, and we gradually begin to understand just how wronged she has been. The story is a striking commentary on the insular and harmful nature of small-town prejudice and how women who don’t fit a certain mold are often considered outliers, if not straight-up villains. Tintera is smart to capitalize on how the true-crime podcast boom informs and infuses the current fictional thriller scene; she’s also effective at writing action that transcends the podcast structure. Smart, edgy, and entertaining as heck. Kirkus Reviews, January 2024

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Adelstein, JakeTokyo vice
Berger, JohnSteps towards a small theory of the visible
Burman, BarbaraThe point of the needle
Haynes, NatalieDivine might
Mackay, HughThe way we are

Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein

The author’s adventures as a top crime reporter for Japan’s largest newspaper. As he completed his studies at Tokyo’s Sofia University, Adelstein took the exam to become a reporter for Yomiuri Shinbun and, surprisingly, was hired. Thus began 12 years of reporting on, and living within, the underbelly of Japanese society. Initially assigned to cover crime in a Tokyo suburb, Adelstein is at his best describing the intricate rules that govern relations among the press and police. As with so much else in Japan, good reporting, or gaining a scoop, depends on cultivating personal relations. A reporter spends much time “schmoozing and massaging” police detectives, bringing them gifts and drinking long into the night with them, which helps develop mutually beneficial friendships. After covering stories like the “Chichibu Snack-mama Murder Case” and the case of a serial-killing dog breeder, Adelstein became the only American journalist to gain admittance to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Press Club. His beat became Tokyo’s infamous Kabukicho district, an area of “pure sleaze,” and soon he was investigating the trafficking of women in Japan, a widespread illegal business often protected by the politically powerful and by the yakuza, Japan’s ubiquitous organized-crime syndicate. The yakuza were heavily involved in sex trafficking, and a story about a yakuza boss receiving a liver transplant in the United States led to a threat on Adelstein’s life. He eventually published the story, but only after returning to Japan as an investigator on human trafficking for the U.S. State Department. Though the author occasionally echoes the writing of Mickey Spillane— “She could milk a customer like a dairymaid with a fecund cow”—this is a serious story focusing on the sexual abuse of women in Japan and the official indifference to that abuse. Not just a hard-boiled true-crime thriller, but an engrossing, troubling look at crime and human exploitation in Japan. Kirkus Reviews, September 2009

Divine Might by Natalie Haynes

In this zippy study, Haynes (Pandora’s Jar), a novelist and classicist, opines on depictions of Aphrodite, Artemis, Demeter, and other Greek goddesses in literature and pop culture. For instance, she pushes back against Ovid’s portrayal in Metamorphoses of Hera, Zeus’s wife, who holds captive one of Zeus’s paramours whom the god turned into a cow in a vain attempt to disguise his adultery, as a “pathologically jealous wife.” Haynes instead suggests Hera’s response is justified and represents the concerns of fifth-century BCE Athens women who had no legal ability to initiate divorce but could be left by their husbands for other women. According to Haynes, Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, is defined by her unflappability in the face of attempted humiliation, as seen in a story from Homer’s Odyssey in which Aphrodite shrugs off getting caught cheating on her husband with Ares. The lighthearted tone and humor will keep even those already familiar with Greek mythology entertained through lengthy recaps of various legends (“I didn’t start this book expecting to compare Arnold Schwarzenegger to the goddess Artemis,” Haynes writes, “but we are where we are”), making the stories fresh and accessible for a new generation. The result is a fun take on Greek myth. Publisher’s Weekly, December 2023

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Bradley, KalianeThe ministry of time
Lawrence, MarkThe Book That Broke The World
Parker-Chan, ShelleyHe who drowned the world

The ministry of time by Kaliane Bradley

A time-toying spy romance that’s truly a thriller.In the author’s note following the moving conclusion of her gripping, gleefully delicious debut novel, Bradley explains how she gathered historical facts about Lt. Graham Gore, a real-life Victorian naval officer and polar explorer, then “extrapolated a great deal” about him to come up with one of her main characters, a curly-haired, chain-smoking, devastatingly charming dreamboat who has been transported through time. Having also found inspiration in the sole extant daguerreotype of Gore, showing him to have been “a very attractive man,” Bradley wrote the earliest draft of the book for a cluster of friends who were similarly passionate about polar explorers. Her finished novel—taut, artfully unspooled, and vividly written—retains the kind of insouciant joy and intimacy you might expect from a book with those origins. It’s also breathtakingly sexy. The time-toggling plot focuses on the plight of a British civil servant who takes a high-paying job on a secret mission, working as a “bridge” to help time-traveling “expats” resettle in 21st-century London—and who falls hard for her charge, the aforementioned Commander Gore. Drama, intrigue, and romance ensue. And while this quasi-futuristic tale of time and tenderness never seems to take itself too seriously, it also offers a meaningful, nuanced perspective on the challenges we face, the choices we make, and the way we live and love today. This rip-roaring romp pivots between past and present and posits the future-altering power of love, hope, and forgiveness. Kirkus Reviews, February 2024

The Book That Broke The World by Mark Lawrence

After the shocking ending to The Book That Wouldn’t Burn, Lawrence has a lot to answer for—and he doesn’t disappoint; there’s no trace of sophomore slump in this fast-paced sequel. The kaleidoscopic story of the vast and perilous athenaeum library continues, again jumping between different perspectives and points in time. Celcha and her brother Hellet, a pair of small, silky-furred ganars enslaved by the library, act on the instructions of the angels that Hellet sees. Meanwhile, siblings Evar, Clovis, and Kerrol, now free from the library chamber that trapped them since birth, are pursued by an insectoid race known as the skeer and a large mechanical monster that seems intent on killing Evar. Arpix and the other escaped librarians are now trapped in the wasteland called the Dust but protected from the skeer by a mysterious weapon. Meanwhile ghosts Livira and Malar search for a way to find solid form again. As these different perspectives weave together, the characters come closer to answers about who built the library, what future awaits it, who determines that future—and how the book Livira wrote affects them all. Lawrence makes the intertwining stories fascinating and propulsive, with enough scattered clues and shocking twists to keep the pages flying. This will keep readers up long past their bedtime. Publishers Weekly, April 2024

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Ham, AnthonyScandinavia


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New additions to eBooks at SMSA

eBooks & Audiobooks help


GeneralFoley, LucyThe midnight feast
GeneralHannah, KristinThe women
GeneralLucashenko, MelissaEdenglassie
HistoricalKeneally, MegFree
MysteryArcher, C. J.Murder at the Mayfair Hotel
MysteryBurrowes, GraceA gentleman fallen on hard times
MysteryFinlay, AlexIf something happens to me
MysteryJensen, OskarHelle and death
MysteryJance, J. A.Blessing of the lost girls
Sci-fi / FantasyLin, Judy I.Song of the six realms

If Something Happens to Me by Alex Finlay

Finlay (What Have We Done) returns with a tightly coiled spine tingler about a law student under suspicion for his high school girlfriend’s disappearance. Five years ago, while Ryan Richardson and his girlfriend, Alison Lane, were on a date, Ryan fell unconscious and Alison vanished. After Ryan woke up, he recovered vague memories of being attacked by a man with a missing finger, but the residents of Leavenworth, Kans., quickly came to suspect him of killing Alison. Now, Ryan has changed his name and fled Leavenworth for law school. He’s on a summer trip to Italy when he learns that Alison’s car has been discovered in a Kansas lake—but her remains are nowhere to be found. Instead, the waterlogged vehicle contains the skeletons of two unknown men and a cryptic note from Alison. In Tuscany, Ryan catches a glimpse of a man who resembles his and Alison’s possible attacker and ends up chasing him across Europe. Meanwhile, back in Kansas, the deputy who recovered Alison’s car traces the case to unexpected corners of Philadelphia. As in Finlay’s previous novels, relentless pacing, impressive characterizations, and the author’s knack for surprise combine to produce top-shelf entertainment. This is a smart, unpredictable winner. Publishers Weekly, April 2024


The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

Foley’s scintillating latest (after The Paris Apartment) centers on the grand opening of a resort in the English village of Tome. Francesca Meadows, who summered in Tome as a child, has teamed with her celebrity architect husband, Owen Dacre, to build an ultra-chic retreat called the Manor. Their plans have angered some locals, who believe the Manor will encroach on sacred woodlands populated, according to folklore, by supernatural creatures known as the Birds. Despite protests, the Manor opens its doors for a summer solstice celebration. Attendees include Francesca’s twin brothers, Hugo and Oscar, and Bella Springfield, a mysterious woman who seems to know Francesca from her childhood visits to the village. In the run-up to the opening celebration’s marquee event, a bacchanalian midnight feast, the guests’ past connections and secret motives come to light. The next morning, a dead body is discovered on the resort’s grounds, and a question hangs in the air: is there a killer in the Manor’s midst, or have the Birds taken their revenge? While keeping track of the book’s five different narrators can be challenging, the chilling folk horror atmosphere and sucker-punch surprises more than compensate for any temporary confusion. Readers are in for a grisly treat. Publishers Weekly, April 2024


Edenglassie by Melissa Lucashenko

Melissa Lucashenko’s Edenglassie is a literary epic that skilfully weaves between the present day, where Grannie Eddie is looked after by her feisty granddaughter Winona and Dr Johnny, and mid-1850s Brisbane, where Mulanyin falls in love with Nita and yearns to return to his family in Yugambeh Country. Edenglassie deftly showcases the complexity, sophistication and wisdom in the laws of sovereign First Nations and the Elders who guide the protagonists in the past and present and deconstructs colonial myths. Lucashenko, who won the Miles Franklin award for her novel Too Much Lip, has created characters here who are diverse in class and personality, and their bonds with each other are deeply fleshed out and palpably felt by the reader. Nita and Mulanyin’s love story is achingly tender and romantic, whereas Winona and Johnny’s has its own fumbling charm, with Johnny’s continuous attempts to win Winona over. Displacement is a central theme in the novel: the larger displacement of First Nations people as colonial Brisbane is built, and Mulanyin’s displacement in the Yagara land and his longing to make a life in Nerang, despite being surrounded by his loving adopted family of Murree, Yerrin and Dawalbin. The tragedy, injustice and brutality of the British invasion are made visible in the historical setting as well as in the contemporary one, where we see its impact on the present-day characters, but Edenglassie also portrays deep hope, resistance and reverence, and is fierce in its commitment to building a rich life swelling with love. Publishers Weekly, August 2023

Blessing of the Lost Girls by J. A. Jance

Jance (Nothing to Lose) proves she’s still at the top of her game in this tense crossover of her Joanna Brady and Walker Family series. A prologue, set in July 2022, identifies drifter Charles Milton as the murderer of six people. The action then flashes back to 2019, when Milton abducts Rosa Rios from a bar in Tucson, Ariz., before strangling and stabbing her to death. Arizona sheriff Joanna Brady and her daughter, Jennifer, who knew Rios, take notice, and since Rios was Native American, her disappearance also attracts the attention of Dan Pardee, an investigator for the Department of the Interior’s new unit for cases involving Indigenous victims (and son-in-law of Brandon Walker). Milton’s efforts to disguise Rios’s body—which include dousing it with bleach, removing her teeth, and burning the remains—delay authorities’ progress in identifying her. When the remains are finally identified, Dan, Joanna, and Jennifer all set out to track down the person responsible. It’s a testament to Jance’s talents that she gives away the killer’s identity and fate at the book’s outset, yet still manages to wring heart-stopping suspense from the central investigation. Nearly four decades into her career, Jance is still finding new ways to thrill her readers. Publishers Weekly, July 2023

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GeneralGlass, Seraphina NovaThe vacancy in room 10
GeneralLescure, Aube ReyRiver east, river west
HistoricalLawhon, ArielWhen we had wings
MysteryHendy, HannahA terrible village poisoning
MysteryKhavari, KateA botanist’s guide to society and secrets
MysteryRigby, SallyMurder at land’s end
MysteryThompson, VictoriaMurder on Madison Square
MysteryTursten, HeleneAn elderly lady is up to no good
Non-fictionAngela Y. DavisFreedom is a constant struggle
Sci-fi / FantasyCharissa WeaksCity of ruin

The Vacancy in Room 10 by Seraphina Nova Glass

Two women face violent relationship troubles at a seedy apartment complex in this entertaining thriller from Glass (The Vanishing Hour). Struggling New Mexico reporter Anna Hartley receives a frantic call from her husband, Henry, who confesses to “ruin everything” and killing someone. Then she hears a bang at the other end of the line, and Henry drops dead; when authorities recover his body from the Rio Grande, they rule his death a suicide. Anna responds by moving into the Sycamores, the dilapidated apartment complex where Henry rented an art studio, and trying to decode his final moments. She quickly becomes entangled in the Sycamores’ many personal dramas, and before long, begins receiving threatening messages urging her to stop her investigation. Might one of the Sycamores’ residents be responsible for Henry’s death? Meanwhile, Sycamores property manager Cassidy Abbott flounders to get back on her feet after the end of a bad relationship, and begins blackmailing unfaithful or violent men for personal catharsis. Glass paints on a broad canvas, working with perhaps too many characters and subplots, but she still manages to maintain tension and intrigue through to the satisfying end. The author’s fans will devour this. Publishers Weekly, February 2024


When We Had Wings by Ariel Lawhon

Lawhon (Code Name Hélène), McMorris (The Edge of Lost), and Meissner (The Nature of Fragile Things) team up for an illuminating story of the nurses stationed in the Philippines during WWII. Minnesotan Eleanor Lindstrom becomes a nurse to move on from a broken heart; Penny Franklin flees a tragic personal life in Texas; and Filipina Lita Capel hopes to use the job to gain entrée into the U.S., like her older sisters. The three become friends in the Army Navy Club in Manila in August 1941, an idyllic time until their lives are upturned by the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The authors ably depict the stark shift in the women’s work during wartime and convey how their friendship continues to inspire them to prevail when faced with hardships after they are separated—Eleanor to Santa Scholastica College, Penny to Corregidor Island, and Lita to the Bataan Peninsula. The atrocities—including starvation and subsistence living—pile up, not only for soldiers but also for the nurses and the civilians turned internees. Though the three women’s personalities seem interchangeable, the authors pull off a gripping and seamless narrative. With this fine tale, the authors succeed at bringing to readers’ minds the courage and sacrifice of those who inspired it. Publishers Weekly, August 2022


Murder on Madison Square by Victoria Thompson

It’s 1900 in Thompson’s solid 25th Gaslight mystery (after 2021’s Murder on Wall Street), and Ethel Bing, who wants to divorce her husband, Alvin, part-owner of an electric automobile manufacturer, asks New York City private eye Frank Malloy to get evidence of her spouse’s infidelity by luring him into a compromising situation to be photographed. Frank declines the unethical request. A few days later, Frank runs into Ethel and Alvin at an auto show at Madison Square Garden, where Alvin touts one of his vehicles as easy for anyone to drive. That observation takes on added relevance after someone fatally runs him over, making Ethel the prime suspect. She again turns to the detective for help, and this time Frank agrees. He and his wife and investigative partner, Sarah, have several possibilities to consider, including possible murder motives of Alvin’s business partner and Alvin’s first wife, previously thought dead. Thompson does a good job showing how the automobile had begun to change people’s lives in the service of a nicely surprising plot. This is one of the series’ better entries. Publishers Weekly, April 2022



A Botanist’s Guide to Society and Secrets by Kate Khavari

British botanist Saffron Everleigh juggles research, romance, and murder in the diverting third installment of Khavari’s historical mystery series (after A Botanist’s Guide to Flowers and Fatalities). In 1923 London, Saffron has turned her back on the comforts of aristocratic life to work in a lab, where she’s routinely condescended to by her male colleagues. She harbors a crush on fellow scientist Alexander Ashton, whose brother, Adrian, has been named a suspect in the recent poisoning death of a Russian researcher. At Alexander’s urging, Saffron looks into the killing in hopes of clearing Adrian’s name. Meanwhile, she wards off the advances of Nick Hale, her best friend’s older brother who’s just arrived in the city. When one of the Russian scientist’s colleagues is also murdered, Saffron infiltrates the secretive lab where the pair worked and discovers that Alexander and Nick have been hiding crucial information from her all along. Though Khavari throws too many characters into the mix and the mystery’s momentum stalls in the middle, she brings everything together with a rewarding final act. It’s a solid entry in a dependable series. Publishers Weekly, May 2024


Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Y. Davis

Activist and scholar Angela Davis tackles our 21st-century notion of freedom–who has it, who is denied it, and the powerful forces that corrupt or distort it to marginalize individuals and groups. She narrates this collection of essays, interviews, and speeches with an authorial but benevolent tone as one who has witnessed directly and indirectly so much of the inequality in the U.S. and beyond. Her passion about these matters resonates in her raspy voice, which reflects a fierce desire to call out those forces that would deny anyone freedom. While details and anecdotes overlap in some areas, Davis’s audiobook succeeds in capturing what has been done to ensure freedom and what still needs doing. AudioFile Magazine, 2016



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