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  • Beautiful Mystery

    The Beautiful Mystery: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novelby Louise Penny.  “I am a devotee to the Inspector Gamache series penned by Louise Penny and the newest offering does not disappoint. Gamache and Beauvoir find themselves in an isolated monastery in Canada, summoned to investigate the murder of the abbot. The murderer must be a monk – but who? As Beauvoir struggles with addiction, Gamache struggles with police department politics, making for a multi-layered and satisfying mystery.” This is one of several titles from contributor Michele Woodward, who has her own great booklist.

  • Blindness

    Blindness by Jose Saramago. A description from Amazon: "In an unnamed city in an unnamed country, a man sitting in his car waiting for a traffic light to change is suddenly struck blind….Within a day the man's wife, the taxi driver, the doctor and his patients, and the car thief have all succumbed to blindness…So begins Portuguese author José Saramago's gripping story of humanity under siege…"

  • Bolero

    Bolero (A Nick Sayler Novel)by Joanie McDonald. Nick Sayler, a damaged PI, lives on a barge on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. He reluctantly gets involved in a whodunit when a doctor calls from Bellevue hospital to tell him a woman who was the victim of a brutal attack has amnesia.  She remembers nothing about the attack, or her life, but was carrying his business card.

  • Capital

    Capitalby John Lanchester: “It’s 2008 and the markets are crashing. The residents of Pepys Road, London begin receiving anonymous postcards that say ‘We Want What You Have.’ Who are they from? An epic novel with intimate portrayals set a time of extraordinary tension.”

  • Career of Evil

    Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike Book 3) by Robert Galbraith. "Career of Evil is the third in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott.  When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman's severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible--and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.With the police focusing on one of the suspects, Strike and Robin delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them..."

  • City of Falling Angels

    The City of Falling Angels By John Berendt. He’s the author ofMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. This book traces the events surrounding the fire which destroyed an opera house in Venice. Some have told me that this was not as gripping as “midnight,” but the Amazon reviews were pretty good.

  • Day I Died

    The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day.  "A propulsive psychological thriller about Anna Winger, a handwriting analyst who occasionally does work for the FBI.  Her ordinary professional detachment falters when she is is brought in to help analyze a ransom note left at a murder scene in her town. This particular case cuts very close, forcing single mother Anna to confont ghosts from her own past, and threatening the life she's tried to build with her 13-year-old son."

  • Dead Until Dark

    Dead Until Dark (and others in the series) by Charlaine Harris. "Love these books. My guilty pleasure. What's not to like about a Southern vampire mystery romance? The basis of the hit HBO series 'True Blood', these books have sex, humor, puzzles, mythology - the whole enchilada. Excellent beach reading."

  • Death in Holy Orders

    Death in Holy Orders by PD James. "a beach read for fans of Adam Dalgliesh."

  • Defending Jacob

    Defending Jacob by William Landay. “Very readable and fast paced.   A district attorney's son is accused of killing a classmate and his father is thrown into the case. The author's description of life and the people in the upper middle class town ring true and so do the feelings and conflicts of the accused's and victim's parents.” Another contributor writes, “This is a legal thriller in which a 14 year old boy is suspected of murdering a fellow student. As the case wears on the parents’ belief systems are sorely tested. The fictional father is an established assistant D.A. and supportive of his son. The book has been likened to Anna Quindlen’s ‘Every Last One’ in its connection with that tiny bit of uncertainty that parents may have about their children.  There are many twists in “Defending Jacob” which keep one reading right to the end.”

  • Faithful Place

    Faithful Place by Tana French. "How had I not heard of Tana French before last summer? In this, her third novel, an undercover Dublin cop is called back to his old neighborhood by his sister. He’s avoided the place since his girlfriend disappeared twenty-two years earlier, just before they were about to elope. Her suitcase has been found in an abandoned house, turning all his old assumptions upside down. He investigates (failing to mention to his higher-ups his personal involvement in the case). It’s a dark, compelling page-turner. French is a master of story and character and an exquisite writer. (NB: If you like Faithful Place, do not be tempted to think her earlier works must be even better. Unlike some writers who get lazy after one success, French’s work has only improved. It’s best to move on to the sequel, Broken Harbor)."

  • Girl Who Fell From The Sky

    The Girl Who Fell from the Skyby Heidi Durrow. "This novel tells the story of a girl, daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I. who miraculously survives a tragedy that claims the rest of her family. She moves in with her African-American grandmother and struggles to fit in with her light skin and blue eyes."  Chosen by Barbara Kingsolver as the winner of the PEN/Bellwether Prize for best fiction manuscript addressing issues of social justice.

  • Gone Girl

    Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This book made the list as a unprecedented "midsummer top pick addition" in 2012.  "I'm sure most of you have at least heard of it, if not read it. A gripping psychological thriller.  Very hard to put down."  One contributor commented, “A lot of HATE in that one!"

  • Instance of the Fingerpost

    An Instance of the Fingerpostby Iain Pears. “If one gets into historical mysteries, this is an all-time winner.” From Amazon (quoting People):  "It is 1663, and England is wracked with intrigue and civil strife. When an Oxford don is murdered, it seems at first that the incident can have nothing to do with great matters of church and state....Yet, little is as it seems in this gripping novel, which dramatizes the ways in which witnesses can see the same events yet remember them falsely. Each of four narrators—a Venetian medical student, a young man intent on proving his late father innocent of treason, a cryptographer, and an archivist—fingers a different erudite and entertaining tour de force."

  • Last Dickens

    The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl "A historical mystery, this is a lovely, exciting read. Charles Dickens has died during the writing of Edwin Drood, leaving the work unfinished. Or did he finish it? You'll see."

  • Life We Bury

    The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens.  From Amazon: College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe's life is ever the same. Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran--and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.  As Joe writes about Carl's life, especially Carl's valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory.  Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl’s conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it’s too late to escape the fallout?

  • Midwives

    Midwives by Chris Bohjalian. "I liked this BEFORE Oprah picked it, thank you very much.  It's a riveting courtroom drama about a midwife in Vermont and a birth that went wrong. It is narrated by the midwife's 14-year-old daughter." Skeletons at the Feast and The Double Bind (also reviewed) are also good page-turners.

  • Museum of Extraordinary Things

    Museum of Extraordinary Things From Amazon: "Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s 'museum,' alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.

    “The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as a tailor’s apprentice. When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance and ignites the heart of Coralie... 

    "With its colorful crowds of bootleggers, heiresses, thugs, and idealists, New York itself becomes a riveting character as Hoffman weaves her trademark magic, romance, and masterful storytelling to unite Coralie and Eddie in a sizzling, tender, and moving story of young love in tumultuous times. The Museum of Extraordinary Things is Alice Hoffman at her most spellbinding."

  • Priceless

    Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures by Robert K. Wittman and John Shiffman. John Shiffman is a Landon grad, so I can offer this testimony: If this book is as good as the parties he had in his basement circa 1983, it’s bound to be worth reading. One Amazon reviewer writes: "Priceless has just about everything you'd want in a book, with appeal to all sorts of readers. In light of the recent art heist in Paris, this is timely and fascinating. Wittman's exploits do indeed read like a crime thriller, keeping the pages turning in a breathless fashion."

  • Reliable Wife

    A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. This is a creepy tale set in early 1900s Wisconsin. A beautiful woman, having come across a newspaper ad from a wealthy businessman who needs a "reliable wife," and hatches a dastardly plan. A lot of you have been reading this. Two friends at a swim meet just told me that the "key is to stick with it."