‘The Cold Way Home’ by Julia Keller is a marvelous murder mystery that spans generations and features fabulous characters

cold way home

“The Cold Way Home” by Julia Keller is the latest in her series of books about Bell Elkins, former prosecutor in Acker’s Gap, West Virginia. Acker’s Gap is one of many impoverished former mining towns that are losing residents and succumbing to the opioid crisis. While this is the eighth book in the series, it also works perfectly well as a stand alone novel. Each of the novels in the series take place a year or so after the previous one, so there is no feeling of missing something. But that being said, reading all of them is a delight.

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‘The Chestnut Man’ by Soren Sveistrup: Gory and terrific

chestnut man

Danish novelist Soren Sveistrup’s “The Chestnut Man” offers us two fascinating protagonists, several gruesome murders, a few puzzling clues, and zero investigative results — through many hours and days — despite a long, grueling search for the perpetrator. Here is an electric police procedural/murder mystery and a harrowing miasma of gritty suspense that builds to a brutal, ugly, and entirely appropriate climax. “The Chestnut Man” is downright perfectly nerve-wracking. Just as it’s supposed to be.

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‘The Escape Room’ by Megan Goldin: nonstop action from the first page to the last

escape room

Greed and arrogance are qualities that permeate the personalities of the characters in Megan Goldin’s “The Escape Room.” The first chapter offers the reader clues that the story will not end well for some of those characters, but just how that comes about is part of the mystery and the thrill. Four hedge fund traders at the competitive firm of Stanhope and Sons are commanded to appear for a team-building exercise. Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam all have better things to be doing, but they are all extremely competitive, and they all want to get the best bonus possible, so they all show up to the not-quite-completed office building and enter the elevator.

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‘Under Currents’ by Nora Roberts is a sweeping story of life and finding strength after abuse

under currents

“Under Currents” is author Nora Roberts at her best. The list of books by this prolific author fills four pages before the start of the novel, and The New Yorker called her “America’s most popular novelist.” In this story, Roberts attacks an important issue that is too often swept under the rug — abuse. Children, women, and men suffer from abuse by family or partners or even casual boyfriends or girlfriends. “Under Currents” begins by introducing what appears to be a perfect family. However, as the reader quickly learns, all is not as the neighbors and townspeople and even close relatives believe.

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‘Betrayal in Time’ by Julie McElwain is a wonderful mystery/scifi/historical fiction novel

betrayal in time

“Betrayal in Time” by Julie McElwain is the fourth novel in which Kendra Donovan, a 21st century FBI agent, is unwittingly sent to the past while trying to avenge the deaths of  most of her team. Her goal is to kill the culprit in England. When someone beats her to the kill, she escapes up a staircase and ends up in 1815, in England.

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‘The First Mistake’ by Sandie Jones — riveting and suspenseful

 

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“The First Mistake” by Sandie Jones is a truly suspenseful mystery with two female protagonists and a plot that is masterfully planned and executed. Alice finally seems to have her life together. After her first husband, Tom, died, she went to pieces. But for the sake of their daughter, she put her life together, relying on Nathan, whom she met and married less than a year after Tom died.

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‘Wherever She Goes’ by Kelley Armstrong is a quick-paced thriller

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“Wherever She Goes” by Kelley Armstrong begins slowly with a main character who doubts her actions and her decisions so much that we wonder if she is completely rational. One day, Aubrey Finch thinks she sees a child being kidnapped in a park, but when she reports what she saw to the police, they don’t believe her. After all, one officer explains, “Few crimes are reported as quickly as a snatched kid,” and there was no such report. But Aubrey had briefly met the child and his mother in the park before, and she knows that what she saw was a child being abducted.

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‘The Last Time I Saw You’ by Liv Constantine keeps readers guessing until the end

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“The Last Time I Saw You” by Liv Constantine is a fabulous mystery. Like their first novel (Liv Constantine is actually two sisters),  “The Last Mrs. Parrish,” which was a bestseller, this one has twists aplenty and keeps the reader glued to the story until the wonderful ending.

While some mysteries keep the reader guessing and then spring a surprise at the end, the Constantine sisters present many, many suspects, yet the ending isn’t really a total surprise. They’ve cleverly and carefully planted clues all along the way — clues that don’t seem to be clues unless viewed in retrospect — and the reader might begin to suspect toward the end, but won’t truly understand what has happened until the final reveal.

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‘The Mother-in-Law’ by Sally Hepworth is filled with thoughtful insight into complicated relationships

mother in law

“The Mother-in-Law” by Sally Hepworth is a story that intrigues while also leaving the reader to reconsider what is important in life. The story is told from two points of view — Diana, married with two adult children, and Lucy, married to Ollie, Diana’s oldest son. At the very start of the story, Lucy and her family learn about Diana’s death.

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