‘Overkill’ by Sandra Brown is about finding love when confronted with the worst of humanity

Overkill by Sandra Brown

We often read in the most salacious of news pieces that the scions of the ultra wealthy are prone to arrogance and delusions of grandeur. They act entitled, as if the laws and rules that apply to “normal” people don’t apply to them. And very often, they are correct. Those who fill our prisons aren’t necessarily those found guilty of criminal behavior but rather those who couldn’t afford top-notch legal representation to defend them in court. In “Overkill,” we see the result of being a criminal in a family so wealthy that they consider flying on their private jet the only way to travel. That criminal is Eban Clarke, the son in a filthy rich Atlanta family; and author Sandra Brown effectively contrasts him with the two main characters, Zach Bridger, a former pro football player who lives in a secluded home in the mountains of North Carolina, and Kate Lennon, an assistant state’s attorney on a mission. Zach and Kate, for reasons that will become clear, butt heads over the fact that Eban Clarke has been released precipitously from prison, and sparks ensue.

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‘One Woman’s War: A Novel of the Real Miss Moneypenny’ by Christine Wells is about a real WWII event and the women who participated

If you enjoy learning about real historical events through gripping fiction, read “One Woman’s War: A Novel of the Real Miss Moneypenny” by Christine Wells. It’s about the famous WWII espionage operation called Operation Mincemeat. I first read about it in a children’s nonfiction book about spy stuff, and Netflix has a new movie, Operation Mincemeat, about that same scheme. The premise seems so outlandish that it’s brilliant. Take a dead body, dress it in a military uniform with identity papers, and handcuff a briefcase filled with real-looking secret documents about the Allied plans to the corpse’s wrist. Make sure Spanish officials will find the body with the fake documents, and the Germans will be sure to be informed. (For more on German involvement in the Spanish Civil War see also “The Girl from Guernica.”)

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‘Furysong’ by Rosaria Munda is the conclusion of a brilliant fantasy trilogy

With her latest novel, “Furysong,” the last fantasy in the trilogy that began with “Fireborne” and continued with “Flamefall,” author Rosaria Munda has claimed her place as a first class writer who can plan, plot, and execute a series of books wherein each approaches 500 pages—not one page of which feels unnecessary. Yes, the novels are lengthy, but they are chockfull of fascinating characters with whom we empathize, nonstop action, unexpected twists, heartbreaking turns, and dragons who bond to their specific humans. Be forewarned that if you start with the first one, you will probably want to read all three books in a row, and this situation might affect your performance at work or school.

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‘Killers of a Certain Age’ by Deanna Raybourn is humorous, thrilling, and written for a woman like me

I love the concept of “Killers of a Certain Age,” perhaps because I am “of a certain age.” Deanna Raybourn certainly writes authentically about women in their 60s and these particular women who have been assassins for decades, working for an organization nicknamed “The Museum.” Their job has been killing bad guys, beginning with Nazi escapees; then when those were mostly dead either from natural causes or murder, assassinating drug overlords, crime bosses, and other really bad people. Now the four women, who trained together in their 20s, are taking the first steps toward enjoying a well-deserved retirement by embarking on an all-expense-paid cruise courtesy of their former employer. But what happens when they realize, on that very cruise, that instead of the cruise being the beginning of the rest of their lives, it’s intended to be the end of their lives?

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‘Santa’s Little Yelpers’ by David Rosenfelt is a mystery which provides plenty of suspects in addition to the plethora of puppies

True to form, “Santa’s Little Yelpers” features not only a myriad of doggie characters, but also David Rosenfelt’s favorite wants-to-be-retired lawyer, Andy Carpenter. This is the 26th mystery featuring that self-deprecating, wise-cracking, extremely dog-loving attorney who really doesn’t want to work anymore. Most of the mysteries in this series are more thriller than legal procedural, with a hefty dose of humor on the side, and in this novel we meet a former lawyer, Chris Myers, wrongly incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. Now he is being accused of another crime, a murder, that he also didn’t commit. And just as in many of the mysteries in this series, Andy Carpenter must begin the trial for this defendant with no idea of how he will prove his client is not guilty.

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‘Odder’ by Katherine Applegate is a poignant and thoughtful story filled with joy

Odder by Katherine Applegate

In her newest novel, “Odder,” we see why children’s writer Katherine Applegate is a Newbery medalist and New York Times bestselling author—it’s because her writing touches readers’ hearts, fills us with emotion, and often shows us a new way of observing the world around us. In “Odder,” we meet a sea otter whose antics fill us with happiness as she dances and twirls and dives joyfully in her ocean environment. At the same time, we glimpse the danger that otters face, and the greater danger that imperiled them in the past—humans. Now, aside from terrible storms, their greatest foes are hungry sharks.

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‘The Girl from Guernica’ by Karen Robards is a stunning and powerful historical fiction

The Girl from Guernica by Karen Robards

Guernica is the small Basque town in Spain that was made famous by Pablo Picasso in his huge painting of the devastation that town endured during the Spanish Civil War. The Germans destroyed the town and slaughtered men, women, children, and animals at the behest of the rebel forces led by the military. At the start of “The Girl from Guernica,” author Karen Robards takes us to this small town the night before the horror that is a central part of the novel, to see the violence and wanton cruelty through the eyes of the main character, Sibi.

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‘Bark to the Future’ by Spencer Quinn about the intrepid Chet and Bernie investigative duo — man and dog

Bark to the Future by Spencer Quinn

“Bark to the Future” is the latest doggie mystery featuring the charismatic narrator Chet, a distinctive black shepherd-mix dog with one white ear, who tells the story as only a dog might. And in the capable paws, er, hands, of author Spencer Quinn, we chuckle and nod our heads in amusement as we realize that Chet’s narrative is just what our dogs might say if only we could understand them.

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‘The Couple at Number 9’ by Claire Douglas is a beautifully constructed mystery

The Couple at Number 9 by Claire Douglas

Fans of mystery author Claire Douglas expect complex plots with many twists, and her latest murder mystery, “The Couple at Number 9,” generously exceeds our expectations. Even the title, referencing the “couple” who live at Number 9 on the street with the creepy name, Skelton Place, in the picturesque Cotswold town of Beggar’s Nook, isn’t completely straightforward. There are, in actuality, two couples to whom this might refer.

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‘What Jonah Knew’ by Barbara Graham is an emotional story of a life cut short and the young boy who knows too much

What Jonah Knew by Barbara Graham

Although “What Jonah Knew” is Barbara Graham’s first novel, she is a seasoned writer. That experience is ably reflected in the narrative — we are invested in the story from the first page (I could not stop reading this book). We know something bad happens to Henry Bird, the young musician whose mother Helen has a bakery and whose girlfriend is expecting their baby, but we don’t know exactly what. His mother is bereft at his disappearance and knows he met with foul play. He also has a loyal dog, Charlie, who becomes a hero in his own right. And in the alternative narrative, we meet Jonah, the title character, who at a very young age seems bothered by things that don’t affect other children. His mother Lucie observes him becoming terrorized by fireworks and loud noises. He also occasionally references his “other mother” and “his” dog.

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