A Necessary End by Holly Brown (2015)

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

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

Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman (2016)

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

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

Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay (2015)

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard (2015)

waysworld"Max" Maxted is a WWI veteran and former POW who plans to open a flight school on the family property. When his father dies under mysterious circumstances in Paris at the peace talks, Max is determined to get to the bottom of it. Although by the end of the book many questions are answered, more have arisen to make us early anticipate book two of this trilogy. What was Max's father really raising money for? What is the secret of Max's birth? Will his pill of a brother and sister-in-law get their comeuppance?

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard is a throwback to those 1930s and early forties movies, often, but not always by Hitchcock, where an innocent man gets pulled into a web of espionage and hidden societies. Think The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, or Ministry of Fear.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (2015)

girltrainOriginally, something in the description of The Girl on the Train struck a chord reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller Rear Window. It is definitely NOT another Rear Window, but Paula Hawkins nonetheless captured my attention from the first sentence and took me on a train ride through the heartbreak of relationships and alcoholism to the suspense and red herrings of a classic mystery. Rachel Watson is not the picture perfect girl next door she emulates, but readers will quickly find themselves in her corner against all odds.

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight (2015)

wheretheyfoundherThis novel begins with a tragedy in the small affluent college town of Ridgedale, New Jersey: the body of a newborn girl is found buried in the woods near the university.

Molly Sanderson is a journalist, new to town, assigned to cover the sad story. It’s a real challenge for her, as she is suffering from a severe depression following the loss of her own baby. As Molly continues her investigation, she uncovers secrets that have been hidden for decades and comes to the realization that Ridgedale is not the idyllic place that its residents make it out to be.

Where They Found Her has good characters and some surprising twists. I hope Kimberly McCreight plans on writing more novels!

Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay (2009)

feartheworstLinwood Barclay’s thrillers are usually good at grabbing the reader right from the beginning and pulling him in. Fear the Worst is no exception to that rule. In this story, Tim Blake is just an average guy who is good at selling cars. He has an ex-wife and a 17-year-old daughter who is staying with him for the summer. His real nightmare begins when his daughter disappears, supposedly into thin air. When he starts to search, no one has heard of her, not even at the place she was working.

To make matters worse, he is constantly being watched because others are looking for his daughter too. They’re not planning a welcome home celebration, though. This is a good mystery that will keep you up late at night turning pages.

The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Dobyns (1997)

churchofdeadgirlsA series of disappearances of young adolescent girls in a small upstate New York town creates suspicion and violence amongst the town’s other inhabitants. From its truly creepy beginning to its end, Stephen DobynsThe Church of Dead Girls is one suspenseful story.

Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984)

neuromancerWilliam Gibson’s critically acclaimed Neuromancer tells the story of Henry Dorsett Case, a master computer hacker forced into a life of petty street crime after crossing an employer who wrecked his nervous system as payback. As Case spirals down a self-destructive path on the streets of near-future Chiba, Japan, a mysterious benefactor offers to repair his nervous system – allowing Case to once again explore the myriad gleaming pathways of Cyberspace – in exchange for a highly dangerous, confidential job. Case accepts, and is plunged into a tangled web of conspiracies with dire implications.

Neuromancer is fascinatingly paced: the first half or so reads like a series of connected short stories, while the latter half begs to be read in one sitting. The plot is a gripping tale of intrigue, and the characters are compellingly written, but where the novel really shines is in its prediction. Gibson’s deeply atmospheric prose envisages a world dramatically changed by incredible advances in computer science and biotechnology combined with growing corporate influence on political and legal matters.

Neuromancer’s frankly portrayed adult subject matter and occasionally unsettling themes definitely aren't for everyone. But for everyone else, it comes highly recommended to those looking for an engaging sci-fi thriller.

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris (2014)

officerspyThis is a fictional re-telling of the infamous Dreyfus Affair which tore France apart in the late 1890s, and revealed a deep-seated anti-Semitism in French society. The novel is told from the point of view of Georges Picquart, an intelligence officer who came to believe in Dreyfus’s innocence and was himself persecuted for his refusal to let an innocent man die in prison without a fight.  Many historical novels based so closely on real events can be stiffly told with flat characters, but Robert Harris manages to fill An Officer and a Spy with real people in an era that he brings to life on the page.

The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer (2014)

cairoaffairIt may be a spy novel, but it’s deeper as it involves feelings. The Cairo Affair takes place in the Middle East; the characters are Egyptian Americans, Libyans, and CIA agents. Olen Steinhauer’s writing provides a very warm, poetic description of Cairo. This book will stay with you for a while, not leaving your thoughts.

Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline (2014)

keepquietJake Buckman is a successful businessman who longs to have a closer relationship with his 16-year-old son. He gets his wish when both of them try to cover up a tragic accident. Lisa Scottoline’s Keep Quiet includes plenty of suspense and is a good page turner.

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (2013)

After hearing rave reviews of Louise Penny’s mystery series featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, I decided to try her latest one, How the Light Gets In. The audiobook is beautifully narrated by Ralph Cosham, who captures the quaint essence of the village of Three Pines perfectly. This is the ninth book in the series and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is investigating the murder of the last remaining Ouellet quintuplet, Constance Pinot. Gamache is surrounded by a rich cast of characters from the little village that includes an eccentric poet with a duck for a pet.

Despite not having read any of the previous books in the series, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I would like to go back and start at the beginning. A great novel with a cozy winter setting that draws you in.