‘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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‘Girl, Forgotten’ by Karin Slaughter a fabulous sequel to ‘Pieces of Her’

Girl, Forgotten by Karin Slaughter

With “Girl, Forgotten,” author Karin Slaughter pens a worthy sequel to “Pieces of Her,” which became a huge hit as a Netflix series. My slight problem with “Pieces of Her” was that main character Andrea was, at times, an incompetent, insecure, fumbling fool. Well now, two years after the events in the first book, Andrea has matured and grown into a formidable character whose insecurities have taken second place to her intelligence and a bit more confidence. She has learned to control her emotions, mostly, and is quite able to start her first assignment as a United States Marshal.

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‘Stay Awake’ by Megan Goldin is filled with mystery and suspense

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin

The title of Megan Goldin’s newest thriller, “Stay Awake,” is important. We find out that those two words have been vital to the survival of the main character, Liv Reese, for two different reasons. Why must Liv Reese stay awake? Why has she written those words on her arms? On her doors? In fact, why are exhortations like that posted and written everywhere: stay awake, don’t trust anyone, don’t sleep? What we know from the first page is that Liv has problems remembering things. For example, she doesn’t know why she has a bloody butcher knife in the pocket of her cardigan. She doesn’t know why someone else is living in her apartment nor why it’s been totally redecorated. She doesn’t know why her roommate Amy doesn’t answer her phone, nor does Liv’s boyfriend, Marco.

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‘The Second Husband’ by Kate White is an intriguing mystery with murders galore

The Second Husband by Kate White

In “The Second Husband,” Kate White presents us with an unusual murder mystery: the first murder in question happened over two years before the present time, in the “then,” as she labels the flashbacks. Emma was married to Derrick, who was tragically murdered while at a conference in New York City. The murder was senseless, and the culprit never found. Emma has felt guilt since that horrific act of violence because their marriage was unhappy, and Derrick had changed from the man she fell in love with. No one, not even her closest friend, knows about her lack of grief.

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‘Dead Against Her’ by Melinda Leigh is a gripping mystery novel

Dead Against her by Melinda Leigh

The fifth novel in the Bree Taggert series by Melinda Leigh, “Dead Against Her,” is just as riveting and touching as the first ones. They feature Bree Taggert, a tough female sheriff in a rural upstate New York community who was born in the county to an abusive father. She became a detective, and, when her sister was murdered, returned to her roots to raise her sister’s children with the help of her now retired former partner.

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‘Dark Objects’ by Simon Toyne

Dark Objects by Simon Toyne

Veteran bestselling author Simon Toyne brings us several twists in his new murder mystery, “Dark Objects.” Pay attention because there’s a lot going on in this clever story that includes gruesome murders, mysterious clues, dead people with no background, and an expert on crime who herself was a victim of horrible violence. While the crimes and the mysteries around them are fascinating, equally riveting are the two main characters.

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‘Holy Chow’ by David Rosenfelt is the latest tail-wagging murder mystery with the affable Andy Carpenter

Holy Chow by David Rosenfelt

Not everyone in the fictional world of wanna-be-retired attorney Andy Carpenter loves him. But IRL (in real life), author David Rosenfelt’s fans adore the irascible, humorous, and self-deprecating lawyer whose dialogue literally makes us LOL (laugh out loud). “Holy Chow” is the latest in a long series of Rosenfelt novels about Andy Carpenter and his motley crew of investigators. As the series has continued, the cast of supporting characters has grown. In addition to Andy’s wife Laurie, who acts as his investigator, there is retired cop Corey Douglas and his K-9 Simon Garfunkel. They, in fact, star in their own kick-off series titled “K Team,” the “K” referencing the amazing Simon, as he is known for short.

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‘The Golden Couple’ by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen is an engaging thriller starting with the very first page

The Golden Couple

Some novels take a while to hook readers while others are fascinating from the beginning. “The Golden Couple” by bestselling authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen grips us immediately through the clever narrative of the two women who are the main characters. But, you might respond, the title is about a couple, a seemingly perfect “golden” couple. While ostensibly the story is about a perfect couple whose marriage is in crisis, the true main characters are the wife and their therapist. For help, they seek the counseling of Avery, who is no longer a licensed therapist due to her quite unconventional methods. Avery is definitely an important part of this story, and it’s her first person narrative that provides much of the information we need in order to figure out what is going on.

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‘The Echoes’ by Jess Montgomery is the 4th novel in the wonderful historical fiction ‘Kinship’ series

The Echoes by Jess Montgomery

Somehow, “The Echoes” seems a softer story than the first three novels in this fabulous historical fiction series about a woman sheriff and the problems she encounters in the rural Ohio county she protects at the start of the last century. While there are crimes in this story, the focus is on the people who live in this part of Bronwyn County, Ohio. It’s July, 1928, and both the weather and emotions are running hot. The narration is in third person, and author Jess Montgomery shares both Sheriff Lily Ross and her mother, Beulah’s points of view. Each is clearly labeled. Both women are widows, and Lily’s mother had a late-in-life child who is the same age as one of Lily’s children. What Lily does not know at the start of this story is that her mother has arranged for Lily’s brother’s child, Esmé, who was born in France during WWI, to come to live with them.

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‘The Homewreckers’ by Mary Kay Andrews is a sweet Savannah mystery

The Homewreckers

Mary Kay Andrews (MKA) is known for her sweet Southern summertime stories that are filled with slow-moving tides, warm beaches, a mystery, and plenty of romantic drama. “The Homewreckers” brings us to Savannah, with its beautiful avenues and lovely historic homes. We meet Hattie, who works in her late husband’s family construction business with her father-in-law, her best friend Cass, and Cass’s mother, who runs the office. As the story begins, Hattie has poured her life savings into a beautiful old home, hoping to restore it and make a profit. But the historic home needs a much larger than expected infusion of cash to bring it to the point where it will make money, and Hattie is forced to sell at a loss.

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