A look back at some good titles

Library Journal is a wonderful resource for books that have come out or books to look forward to.  The journal has made a list of 2019 essential titles.  A few are ones that I have reviewed.

Nevada Barr is well known for her series of novels featuring Park Ranger Anna Pigeon.  What Rose Forgot is not an Anna book but a standalone.  It involves the reader in the story of Rose, a woman in her late 60s.

When the story begins, Rose wakes up in the woods in a confused state.  It takes her time to return to some version of reality when she then meets up with two young boys.  They kindly arrange to contact the dementia care center where Rose has been living.  She does not feel that she belongs there though and the book is about how she got there and why. Along the way, readers meet those who help Rose to understand and solve the mystery of what has happened to her.

This book has gotten excellent editorial reviews. To me, it was an okay read.  I could not quite become immersed in the story.  Still, you may enjoy it, especially if you have read other books by the author.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this book in exchange for an honest review.

Editorial Reviews


“Gripping and spine-tingling, What Rose Forgot is sure to raise the hackles of lovers of psychological thrillers.” ―NY Journal of Books

“Compelling… Fans who love Barr will devour this book, and readers who don’t want to begin a multivolume journey with one character will delight in this new stand-alone title.” ―Library Journal (starred review)

“Thrilling action, madcap humor, and a larger-than-life cast energize this cleverly plotted take on a traditional mystery. Barr surprises and entertains from start to finish.” ―Publishers Weekly

“A tour de force that thickens its thriller plot with a razor-sharp view of its heroine’s unreliable but perceptive mind.” ―Kirkus Reviews

The Suspect

had read The Child, this author’s second novel. and very much enjoyed it.  See my review of that one below.  I began this book with high expectations that were not quite realized.  Nonetheless, I found that I was constantly turning the pages of the short chapters until I got to the end.

The central story is about Rosie and Alex who travel to Thailand for their gap year.  The two are very different with Alex having a stronger moral compass.  Rosie wants to party while Alex wants to see and experience the country.  What happens to them and why forms the central mystery/suspense of the book. No spoilers here. Around them, there are other characters in Thailand and Rosie and Alex’s families at home in England.  The reader also spends time with a detective and reporter who were also in this author’s earlier novels.  Their relationships and backstories figure prominently in the narrative.  There is an overlap in that Kate is reporting but her son is also traveling in Thailand and a part of the story’s events.

This novel deals with tragedy and the impact of a difficult upbringing. I won’t say about whom or whose so as not to spoil the suspense.  Yet, despite this, I found that I did not care about the characters or story as much as I had hoped to.

I give this one a solid three stars.  If you read it, I would love to know what you think.

Praise for The Suspect

“A nail-biting tale of missing teens and the parents who worry for them. Fiona Barton’s first two novels, The Widow and The Child, were international bestsellers.…The Suspect deserves equal success. It’s…expertly written….Barton’s characterizations are exceptional.”—The Washington Post

“In The Suspect, Fiona Barton mixes universal truths with a thrilling tale.”—USA Today (3½ out of 4 stars)

I have not read Fiona Barton’s first book, “The Widow,” although I probably will now. Her sophomore effort, “The Child,” is intriguing and suspenseful Who is the baby found on the building site? How are the characters and their stories connected? What does it mean to be a parent? To grieve? To confront and accept one’s past? “The Child” is about all of this while being a page turner. I did guess the answer to the central mystery but this did not in any way lessen my enjoyment of this novel. I feel confident that Fiona Barton’s next book will be, “third time the charm.” Recommended for suspense fans.  Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to review this novel.

I read and enjoyed this latest, a first in a new series, from Ann Cleeves. It is publishing soon.  I have also included the New York Times review. Let me know what you think, either of the reviews, or the book, or both.  I recommend this title.

My review

Kudos to the talented Ann Cleeves for this first entry in her new series. I have read the author’s Vera and Jimmy Perez novels, both of which I recommend. As a reader who looked forward especially to every Perez novel, I was sad to learn that the series had finished. I wondered if there would be no more books by this author. I am delighted that that is not the case.

In The Long Call, Ann Cleeves creates a world within a small community in North Devon where rivers converge; the setting effectively becomes a part of the story. In this world, there are three police officers who are central characters. First is Matthew; he was raised within the Brethren, a conservative religious group. While Brethren characters are very much a part of the novel, Matthew himself has left the group. This cast him away from the familiar into a new life in the police and with his husband, Jonathan. Next is a female character, Jen. She is divorced and never has sufficient time for that elusive work-life balance. Ross is a police officer who seems a bit full of himself but he too has reasons for being as he is. I enjoyed spending time with each of these characters.

The story is populated with many characters. There are businessmen, a curate and his girlfriend, an artist and many others. There is the murder victim whose backstory is essential to the plot. Also, there are three young women with Down Syndrome who are integral to the novel. Ms. Cleeves portrays each as a fully rounded person. She is clear eyed and empathetic in the portrayals of the three and their families.

This book was an excellent read and one that I highly recommend. I was sorry to get to the end of the book and only hope that the next in the series comes out soon. If you are a person who enjoys well written British mysteries, put this one on your TBR pile

Many, many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for this book in exchange for an honest review.

The New York Times Book Review by Marilyn Stasio that will be in this weekend’s book review.

Matthew Venn is the kind of man who isn’t even welcome at his own father’s funeral. But that’s where we find this detective, skulking around the edges of the service at the North Devon Crematorium, when the call comes in that a body has been found nearby, on the beach at Crow Point. Not a drowning victim, we learn in Ann Cleeves’s atmospheric procedural THE LONG CALL (Minotaur, $26.99), but murdered with a stab wound to the chest.

Venn already has plenty to occupy him, having recently married his lover (“beautiful” Jonathan) and moved back to Devon to police the strictly religious community where he grew up. A prolific author with two sturdy mystery series already underway, Cleeves has a fondness for quirky characters, several of whom show up here when Venn starts interviewing suspects. But Cleeves’s true strength lies in her descriptions of the natural world, gorgeously captured in this brief description of Venn listening to “the surf on the beach and the cry of a herring gull, the sound naturalists named the long call, the cry which always sounded to him like an inarticulate howl of pain.”

This is author Maria’s Fredericks’s second novel that is set in early 20th century New York. I very much enjoyed it and look forward to the next entry in this historical mystery series..

The book begins just as news of the Titanic has made its way across the ocean. Perhaps this is symbolic because in this is book there are metaphorical storms and acts are undertaken to protect loved ones, just as happened on that doomed vessel. An additional, and important, narrative centers on what it was like to be Italian American at a time when the Italians were not always welcomed and the Black Hand was something to be feared. Finally, there are settings in town houses and on Long Island estates as well as on Mulberry Street; these highlight the difference between rich and poor, immigrants and those with longer histories in the country.

Our protagonist is Jane who is a ladies’ maid to Louise. Much as in Downton Abbey, Louise is engaged to marry William as she brings the money and he the family connections to an alliance. Will their relationship survive?

William has an uncle who has taken an interest in him for many years. Uncle Charles offers his Long Island estate to the couple for their wedding. However, before that can take place, the nanny to Charles and Alva’s children is murdered. Was it the Black Hand or did the murder spring from other motivations? Of course, you will need to read the novel to find out.

I felt that the characters in Death of a New American had stories to tell and were well portrayed. There was the obligatory twist in the plot and it was well done. If you enjoy historical mysteries, I encourage you to give this one a try.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this e galley in exchange for my honest review I give this one four stars.

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