A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd (2011)

Bess Crawford is a nursing sister in France during World War I, but she finds time during leave in England to become immersed with the secretive Ellis family and to take it upon herself to help solve a murder or two when she isn't tracking down a child who looks suspiciously like the long-deceased Ellis daughter.

Read A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd today.

Creole Belle by James Lee Burke (2012)

Gritty and graphic, James Lee Burke again deftly perpetuates his Dave Robicheaux series. Creole Belle explores the darkest corners of crime in Louisiana. Burke's true gift lies in his lyrical style. You can see the Spanish moss and smell the rotting bodies. His main characters are flawed creatures but, oh so interesting. Once I started reading, I savored the excitement and the over the top plot, which is Burke's signature style.

 

Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick (2012)

Robert Goolrick, author of A Reliable Wife, just keeps getting better. This Gothic novel, set in a tiny village in Virginia in 1948, reveals the dark obsessive love of the town's strange newcomer for the wife of the town's richest and nastiest man. Off stage, but still caught up in this story, is an eleven-year-old boy, who takes a lifetime to understand what happened.

Goolrick captures the hypocrisy of the town's churchmen and their power over the people. All the characters become entangled in the dilemma. More importantly Goolrick intrigues us with intricate and hypnotic delineation of his characters, making us wonder, "How much control do we really have in our lives?"

Check out Heading Out to Wonderful today.

An Isolated Incident by Susan R. Sloan (1998)

Interesting page turner set in the Pacific Northwest - a popular high school teacher is arrested for the murder of one of his students. Police have worked for months to catch a suspect, but do they have the right man? This novel explores how quickly hatred and bigotry can destroy a person's life. A good mystery.

Check out An Isolated Incident by Susan R. Sloan.

Defending Jacob by William Landay (2012)

Many staff members at the library were reading this novel, so I could not wait to get my hands on a copy! It's a great novel with a surprise twist thrown in at the end.

Andy Barber, a desperate father who works for the District Attorney's office, tries his best to help his son after he is accused of murdering a fellow classmate. This book is one of those gems that will keep you up long into the night turning pages.

Read Defending Jacob by William Landay today.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)

How well do you know the person you love? This becomes the central question during the disappearance of Amy, the wife of Nick Dunne. Nick and Amy are two writers that met and fell in love in New York. After economy tanks, they both lose their jobs and move back to Nick’s childhood home in Missouri. Financial worries put a strain on their already troubled marriage.

Then, on their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy disappears and Nick is the prime suspect with the evidence mounting against him. As the story moves through the days after the disappearance, you begin to question the truth as its being told from Nick and Amy’s perspective. This psychological thriller is a must read.

Read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn today and check back next month for Laura’s take on the book!

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (2008)

The White Tiger is a dark and funny novel which plunges the reader deep into the underbelly of modern India, a place where people are still very much prisoners to their own caste. The story unfolds as a series of letters to a Chinese official, and it is this device which brings the main character to life, revealing his wit, his flaws, and his deepest inner thoughts. We follow Balram through his daily life which is so oppressively frightening on the one hand but presented in such absurd scenarios that I actually laughed out loud.

Well written, and exploding with symbolism, the story is really about Balram’s struggle for freedom—freedom from “the Darkness” where most people live in subhuman conditions. It is a quick read, and after the first chapter, you won’t be able to put it down.

And since it’s such a quick read, those of you in your 20s and 30s should read it this weekend and join our GenLit Book Discussion Group on Monday, July 16 at 6:30 at Taste of India in Willowbrook. Get your copy of The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga today.

The Mysterium by P.C. Doherty (2012)

History, mixed with sinister mystery and, well plotted too, is like a jewel in the crown. Hugh Corbett in the King Edward's I service is forcibly retained to solve a series of brutal murders. The streets of Medieval London reek with bloody minded gangs and high born assassins. You do not have to read the other books in the series to appreciate The Mysterium, but you may want to after reading this.

Read The Mysterium by P.C. Doherty.

Unwanted by Kristina Ohlsson (2012)

Kristina Ohlsson joins the ranks of Scandinavian authors who delve into the dark, sick side of the human condition. Her main character, Fredrika Bergman, is an enigmatic woman trying to find her niche in the male dominated world of police work.

The story starts with a report of a missing child taken from a train. At first, the case does not send any evil vibrations, but then events escalate. Another child is taken and then another. Fredricka intuits that her team is on the wrong track. As the case expands, Ohlsson reveals the inner turmoil and personal problems of her characters, thus pulling the reader more deeply into the story.

Although this book received starred reviews and the author limits the graphic descriptions to a minimum, the dark side is still out there.

One word of caution: the subject matter traces the path of a psychopath and his quirky, ugly reactions to being an abused child, and not everyone is comfortable with this type of material.

Read Unwanted today and share your thoughts on the book here.

Heart of a Killer by David Rosenfelt (2012)

Jamie Wagner is an underachieving lawyer without much ambition until he takes on the pro bono case of a lifetime. As he meets the plaintiff he is drawn to her and thus to her problem, which is a pip. She is in prison for killing her husband in cold blood, her daughter will die without a heart transplant, and she wishes to donate her heart to her daughter by committing suicide.

The plus side of this book is the interweaving of an old story that completely changes the facts as we know them. Wry humor and real human beings give this read a special voice. Enjoyed it immensely.

Read David's Rosenfelt's Heart of a Killer today!

Spotlight: Jackson Brodie mysteries

The four mysteries in Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series are complex stories involving lost innocence, missing children, and loyal dogs. Brodie used to be a Cambridge, England, police detective. He used to be a private investigator. Now he is a man with failed relationships and a knack for getting involved in helping anyone in distress.

In the first volume, Case Histories (2004), Brodie helps two sisters find what happened to their baby sister, missing for several decades, a father find the man who murdered his
daughter, and a young woman find the mother who went to prison year's before. See
the Masterpiece Mystery dramatization, Case Histories (2011)

The rest of the series includes One Good Turn (2006), When Will There Be Good News (2008), and Started Early, Took My Dog (2011).

1222 by Anne Holt (2011)

Another Scandinavian mystery from Norway gains popularity in the U. S. and with good reason. A train wreck high, high in the mountains of Norway leaves over 300 people stranded. Fortunately, they gain shelter at a decent hotel that is about to be tested against the most intense blizzard in recent history. A perfect setting for murder(s)

In this icy setting we meet the enigmatic Hanne Wilhelmsen, a former homicide officer, now permanently bound to a wheelchair, which is another story. Hanne encamps in the lounge and from that point acutely observes the large cast of characters, soon suspects in murder quite cold.

The unique element of this story is the ever frightening storm that puts everyone under pressure. Reluctantly Hanne is pulled into the maelstrom. A real whodunit!

Check the catalog for 1222 and for other books by Anne Holt.

Spotlight: Spotlight: Turn of the Century Vienna: Freud, Pastry, and Murder

Spotlight: Turn of the Century Vienna: Freud, Pastry, and Murder
Two current mystery series use 1900 era Vienna as their setting. Frank Tallis’s Liebermann Papers series follows psychiatrist Max Liebermann as he assists his friend Detective Oscar Rheinhardt as he investigates murder. These murders usually involve serial killers and require Liebermann’s insight into pathological behavior. Occasionally a visit to Liebermann’s mentor, Dr. Freud, is required. Somehow indulging in a great many nicely described pastries is required to solve any crime. The first volume in the series is A Death in Vienna.
J. Sydney Jones's Viennese Mysteries feature lawyer Karl Werthen who investigates alongside real-life criminologist Hanns Gross. These cases involve historical persons such as artist Gustav Klimt and composer Gustav Mahler. Again, meals are lovingly described; this time tending more towards sauerkraut and sausages (although, I am happy to say, pastries do regularly make an appearance). The first volume in the series is The Empty Mirror.

The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen (2007)
Kept me quiet and intrigued for a day and a half. I couldn’t put it down! So many characters intertwined to complete the multi-generational saga.

For more medical thrillers view our staff picks here.

Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House by M.C. Beaton

Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House by M.C. Beaton (2003)
Fast reading! Intrigue! Good diversion from blood and guts murder mystery. Twists and turns on English roads through towns with historic names leads to conclusion of a murder or 3.

To get a complete list of books in the Agatha Raisin series visit M.C. Beaton's website.