Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Publication Info: Published July 1st 2017 by Thomas & Mercer. Kindle edition free from Prime Reading by Amazon Books. Other editions available.

Summary: Gina Royal’s life changed forever when a car ran into her garage. The gaping hole in the building revealed a dark secret that her husband, Mel, kept from everyone for years: he was a serial killer.Stillhouse Lake

Now Gina is on the run with her two teenage children. Initially under suspicion by the police as an accomplice to her husband’s evil deeds, she was exonerated by the legal system, but not by the court of public opinion. Internet trolls, the bored, the crazy and anyone cowardly enough to throw the first stone behind a wall of anonymity attack Gina relentlessly. The threats arrive daily. Some are just disturbing but others cross the line into reality.

Forced to change their identities over and over, Gina, now Gwen, is tired of running. In the quiet community of Stillhouse Lake, she longs to find a place where she and her children can settle down and stay put. Her kids need some solidity in their lives.  But then a murdered woman is found in the lake. The evidence points to Mel Royal’s M.O. but he’s in jail. Gwen knows someone is out to frame her. But can she prove her innocence before she and her family have to disappear again?

Comments: O M G. I couldn’t put this one down. I swallowed Stillhouse Lake whole and got my hands on the second in the series post haste. Several years ago, I swore off serial killer books. But this is different. The focus is on one of the living victims–the killer’s wife. This book also brings into sharp focus the dangers of living in the internet age, in which anyone can be attacked and tracked anonymously.

Fans of psychological suspense should make this book a top priority on their reading lists.

Evans Above by Rhys Bowen

Publication Info: Published November 15th by St. Martin’s Press. I read the Kindle edition courtesy of my local library. Other editions and publishers available. This is the first book in the Evan Evans series.

Summary: The town of Llanfair is nestled between the peaks of Glyder Fawr and Yy Wyddfa in Wales. The mountains are popular hiking spots for tourists and locals. The Everest Inn, run by Major Anderson, rents rooms to the tourists. Evans Above

One day, Major Anderson alerts Constable Evan Evans that a hiker staying at his inn has gone missing. A few hours later, a body is found at the base of a cliff, obviously dead from a fall. But then another body is found nearby, also the victim of a fall. The detectives called in to investigate declare the two deaths as unfortunate, coincidental accidents, but Constable Evans suspects they were murdered. After a third hiker is found a few days later with his throat slit, it is obvious there is a killer wandering the hills above Llanfair.

Comments: Despite the number of murders in this book, it falls on the edges of the cozy mystery category. I’d call it a gentle police procedural. The book is peopled with quirky characters. Between investigating the murders, Constable Evans has do deal with such crimes as trampled vegetable beds and a missing apple pie.

I found Evans Above to be a completely charming story. I’ve reviewed other Rhys Bowen books and am a fan of her writing. When I could finally get my hands on her first book, I was delighted. While it is obviously less polished than her later work, I was not disappointed and plan to read more in the series. (Rhys Bowen did publish a few things before Evans Above under a different name. A list of her works and her bio can be found on her website https://rhysbowen.com).

Recommended for readers of cozy mysteries and mystery fans looking for something a bit lighter. And, of course, for anyone who loves Rhys Bowen’s books!

Lost Mars: Stories From the Golden Age of the Red Planet

Publication Info: Edited by Mike Ashley. Published April 5, 2018, paperback. Kindle edition also available.Lost Mars

I discovered this little gem while browsing the new book shelves at the main branch of the Denver Public Library.  Born in the 50’s, my childhood reading included fantastic fiction about amazing discoveries and about colonizing nearby planets. I used to devour the Danny Dunn books by Jay Williams, as well as the Miss Pickerell books by Ellen MacGregor and the Mr. Bass books by Eleanor Cameron. As a teen I grew up on Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov.

But then I left the classics behind, moving on to more modern sci-fi and fantasy. This volume gave me the opportunity to learn about some of the very earliest sci-fi writers and their stories about Mars. Lost Mars: Stories From the Golden Age of the Red Planet covers short stories about Mars from the late 1800’s to the early 1960’s. Some of the authors were familiar to me, but most were not. I found the stories to be deep, reflective and intelligent for the time in which they were written. Note the phrase “for the time in which they were written”. Yes several are misogynistic, written in good old dead white guy style, but while that would rankle in a story written today, these tales laid a solid foundation for generations of writers to come– writers who continue to expand our horizons with their far-reaching imaginations.

Recommended for sci-fi enthusiasts.

Higher Authority by Stephen White

Publication Info: Paperback edition, Feb 2006 by Signet Books. (Originally published in hardcover 2004 by Viking Books. Book # 3 in the Alan Gregory series.

Higher Authority

I recently moved into an apartment building in Denver, CO, that has, among other great features, a small library. While stuck inside during Wednesday’s “bomb cyclone” snowstorm, I perused the shelves and found Higher Authority.IMG_0514

One nice thing about a random book collection is finding an author or series I’d forgotten about. I wish I’d gotten my hands on book #2 in the series, but I decided (for once) not to be persnickety about reading this series in order.

Alan Gregory isn’t the main character in this book, rather it is his girlfriend, attorney Lauren Crowder, who is featured. Lauren travels to Salt Lake City to visit an old friend, Robin Torr, to get legal help for her sister, Teresa. Teresa claims she was sexually assaulted by a prominent person and wants to bring a lawsuit against her. Although they realize this case could gather some notoriety, none of them were expecting the danger they found themselves in.

With locations in Denver, Utah and New Mexico, I was familiar with all of the settings, which added to my enjoyment of the book. I’ll have to track down more books in this series.

Highly recommended for readers of mysteries and suspense.

Off the Grid by C.J. Box

Publication Info: Published March 2016 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons.  Kindle edition, checked out of my local library. Off the Grid is #16 in the Joe Pickett series.Off the Grid

I’m almost caught up with this series. Actually, I’ll be sad when I get to # 19, Wolf Pack, which is Box’s latest entry in the series, because then I’ll have to wait until he writes and publishes the next one!

Governor Rulon’s time in office is about to end, but he sends Joe out on one more mission — to find out what’s going on out in the Red Desert area of Wyoming. Much to Joe’s surprise, the Governor wants him to find his old friend, Nate, to help with this mission.  Meanwhile, Sheridan, the usually predictably good daughter, gets herself into a bit of a mess right smack in the middle of the problems in the Red Desert, requiring Nate to come to her rescue. Without giving too much away, it was good to see  Nate finally get a bit of a break in this book. The poor guy has been on the run since book 3, Winterkill.

C.J. Box was in Denver at The Tattered Cover autographing books, which I unfortunately just missed in the midst of my move here. He does come here now and then, so I hope to catch him next time!

Highly recommended for mystery fans and those who like stories set in the west.

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

Chief Inspector Gamache series, #9. Publication Date: August 2013 by MacMillan Audio (Audible.com). Other editions available.

Brief Summary: There are two story lines in this novel. One follows the murder of Myrna’s friend, Constance; the other works to shine a light on the reasons behind the warehouse incident (from a previous book) and the apparent downfall of Inspector Gamache. While the stories don’t really intertwine, they do provide interest that neither alone could quite make work. How the Light Gets In

Comments: I love the lyrical, descriptive writing in this series as well as the incredibly deep, perceptive insights into the characters. Sometimes I find the plotting a bit muddy, but the writing is what keeps me coming back. I thoroughly enjoy listening to the narration by Ralph Cosham.

I was prepared to give How the Light Gets In a 4-star review until I got toward the end and edged my rating upwards. There were things that happened that made me sit up and take notice – some incidents I found incredibly poignant. I don’t think someone unfamiliar with the series would react the way I did, but for those who have come to know and love the residents of Three Pines, I think you won’t come away untouched.

Highly recommended for readers of the Inspector Gamache series. Those looking to read this mystery series full of depth and insight should start with the first book, Still Life.

 

Brief Mentions

I’m a bit off-schedule. I broke my foot and had surgery just over a month ago. Doc ended up putting a wire in my foot. For about 2-3 weeks, I was pretty much confined to my bed or the recliner, with my foot elevated. This meant I initially did a lot of reading and I did manage to put up a flurry of book reviews. Doing nothing but reading and screen time on my iPad/iPhone gave me eye strain. Once I became just a tad more mobile –I’m on one of those knee scooters– I really had to catch up on other things and get away from reading for a while to let my eyes rest.

I’m still on the knee scooter and unable to walk on my left foot. Doc will remove the wire in a couple of weeks and I can then start baby-stepping into a bit more normalcy. Healing is a long, slow process!

I did listen to some older-title books on audio or my kindle, where I could crank the font up.

1. The Last Mile by David Baldacci. (Amos Decker #2). Publication date: April 2016.

Brief summary : Decker helps a man who got a last-second reprieve on death row for the murder of his parents. Someone else confessed to the crime, but it soon becomes apparent that there is more to the story.  Comments: I really enjoyed reading this book. I’ve been a Baldacci fan for over 20 years. He knows how to spin a good yarn. Unlike many other writers with dozens of best-selling books, he hasn’t rested on his laurels. He has honed his craft over the years and hasn’t lowered his standards. I’m looking forward to the next 2 books in the Amos Decker series (The Fix (2017) and The Fallen (2018).

2. The Forgotten by Faye Kellerman. (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus # 13). Publication Date: August 2001.

Brief Summary: Rina and Peter’s shul is vandalized. The damage is extensive and the anti-Semitic messages and photos are appalling. While Rina works to clean up the mess, Peter investigates the crime and learns that his step-son, Jacob, has connections to the perpetrator. Comments: Reading this series is like visiting old friends. I love learning more about the familiar characters. There aren’t any surprises here, but I think fans of the series will enjoy this one.