Category Archives: William Morrow

Review: Sleeping in the Ground by Peter Robinson

Title: Sleeping in the Ground by Peter Robinson
Inspector Banks Series Book 24
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

MICHAEL CONNELLY calls Peter Robinson “an author with amazing empathy, a snare-trap ear for dialogue, and a clear eye for the telling detail.”

See why in Sleeping in the Ground, the gripping new novel starring Alan Banks  featuring an opening scene you’ll never forget, and a finale you won’t see coming.

At the doors of a charming country church, an unspeakable act destroys a wedding party. A huge manhunt ensues. The culprit is captured. The story is over.

Except it isn’t. For Alan Banks, still struggling with a tragic loss of his own, there’s something wrong about this case — something unresolved. Reteaming with profiler Jenny Fuller, the relentless detective deeper into the crime… deep enough to unearth long-buried secrets that reshape everything Banks thought he knew about the events outside that chapel.

And when at last the shocking truth becomes clear, it’s almost too late.

Packed with twists and turns, heart and soul, this is another triumph from an author “at the top of his game” (LOUISE PENNY).

Review:

Featuring a ripped from the headlines style mass killing, Sleeping in the Ground is an engrossing police procedural which takes place in the British countryside. This latest release from Peter Robinson stars venerable Detective Superintendent Alan Banks and although it is the 24th installment in the Inspector Banks series, it can easily be read as a standalone.

The novel opens with a mass shooting by an unknown assailant at a wedding that leaves bride Laura Tindall and two people dead and groom Benjamin Kemp and five others wounded.  With little evidence to go on, the investigation does not take long to uncover the probable identity of the shooter. With the murderer dead by his own hand, the case is quickly wrapped up, but a few details bother Detective Superintendent Banks.  After pathologist Dr. Glendenning mentions a few anomalies in the killer’s post-mortem that don’t add up, Banks, DI Annie Cabbot and DC Geraldine “Gerry” Masterson dig deeper into the victims’ pasts.

Banks is rather introspective throughout the investigation as he mourns the recent loss of his first serious girlfriend. Despite his preoccupation with his memories and an unexpected reunion with psychologist Dr. Jenny Fuller, his years of experience and keen instincts are sharper than ever and he quickly zeros in on a possible reason for the shooting spree but the ensuing investigation does not have an overabundance of clues for the investigators to follow.  Instead, subtle pieces of information combined with a few facts and logical conclusions prove Banks and his team are on the right track.  Gerry is instrumental in finding the evidence that provides them with a viable suspect. Days of torrential rain have resulted in area flooding, but with another person’s life hanging in the balance, Gerry disregards her personal safety once she is certain she knows what the killer is planning next.

Sleeping in the Ground is a fantastic mystery that old and new fans of the Inspector Banks series will enjoy.  The characters are brilliantly developed with true to life foibles and frailties that are incredibly relatable. The investigation relies on old fashioned detective work to solve a very modern crime and the storyline unfolds at steady pace. Peter Robinson brings the search for the shooter to an exciting conclusion that completely wraps up the investigation.

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Filed under Contemporary, Inspector Banks Series, Mystery, Peter Robinson, Rated B, Review, Sleeping in the Ground, Suspense, William Morrow

Review: The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

Title: The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 528 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

The stunning new novel from the international #1 bestselling author  a searing, spellbinding blend of cold-case thriller and psychological suspense.

Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father — Pikeville’s notorious defense attorney — devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case that unleashes the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried forever…

Packed with twists and turns, brimming with emotion and heart, The Good Daughter is fiction at its most thrilling.

Review:

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter is an utterly spellbinding mystery that is also quite heartrending.

Twenty-eight years ago, thirteen year old Charlotte (Charlie) Quinn, her fifteen year old sister Samantha (Sam) and their mother Gamma are brutally attacked in their home by two masked gunman. The perpetrators were searching for patriarch Rusty, a reviled criminal defense attorney whose client list features such lowlifes as rapists, killers and drug dealers. In the present, Rusty’s clientele is much the same and Charlie is a criminal defense attorney who is currently separated from her husband, ADA Ben Bernard. Following a one night stand with a stranger, Charlie discovers she and her hook-up have inadvertently switched cell phones. Going to the local middle school to exchange phones, Charlie finds herself in the middle of a school shooting that stirs up all of the unresolved trauma from her past. In the aftermath of the devastating shooting, two people are dead and Rusty quickly agrees to represent the alleged shooter, Kelly Wilson, and Charlie is forced to confront the demons that have haunted her for the last twenty-eight years.

Charlie is not one to mince words and she might have a tough outer shell, but she is still clearly traumatized by the attack that forever altered her family’s lives. At one time blissfully happy with Ben, her caustic tongue and endless haranguing in recent years have finally driven him to leave her. Making no progress in fixing her tattered marriage, Charlie’s one night stand with a stranger is completely out of character and she is deeply ashamed of this decision. Now a witness in the case against Kelly, Charlie is stunned to realize she harbors doubts about Kelly’s guilt despite the fact the teenager was literally caught red-handed at the scene of the crime.

As events play out after the shooting, Charlie must finally deal with the trauma from the childhood attack. Although she shares office space with Rusty, she is NOT his legal partner and they manage to put aside their ideological differences. Their exchanges are playful but their discussions lack depth or much substance. While Ben knows about what happened to Charlie, her past is clearly still affecting her behavior and decisions, yet she refuses to discuss it with him or anyone else.

The Good Daughter is a dark and gritty mystery but there are surprisingly humorous, laugh out loud passages that lighten the storyline. The characters are brilliantly developed, deeply flawed yet personable and even some of the “bad” guys manage to elicit sympathy. The two story arcs seamlessly flow together and it is impossible to say which storyline is more compelling. Karin Slaughter brings the novel to a jaw-dropping, twist-filled conclusion that wraps up all of the loose ends. An absolutely enthralling mystery that fans of the genre do NOT want to miss.

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Filed under Contemporary, Karin Slaughter, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Good Daughter, William Morrow

Review: Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs

Title: Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Historical (WWII), Romance, Women’s Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

Love and family. War and secrets. Betrayal and redemption.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs returns with a deeply emotional and atmospheric story that spans oceans and decades, from the present-day Delaware shore to the battlefields of WWII France.

Widowed by an unspeakable tragedy, Camille Palmer has made her peace with the past and settled into the quiet safety of life with her teenage daughter Julie in a sleepy coastal town. Then the arrival of a mysterious package breaks open the door to her family’s secret past. In uncovering a hidden history, Camille has no idea that she’s embarking on an adventure that will utterly transform her.

Camille, Julie, and Camille’s father return to the French town of his youth, sparking  unexpected memories — recollections that will lead them back to the dark days of the Second World War. And it is in the stunning Provençal countryside that they will uncover their family’s surprising history.

While Provence offers answers about the past, it also holds the key to Camille’s future. Along the way, she meets a former naval officer who stirs a passion deep within her — a feeling that she thought she’d never experience again.

Review:

Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs is a beautifully rendered, poignant novel that mainly takes place in the present but also flips back in time to World War II in order to solve an intriguing family secret.

Camille Palmer Adams was at one time fearless and adventuresome as she embraced love and life without reservation. However, five years ago, in a heart-stopping instant, a tragic loss changed her into a woman who now refuses to take risks and rarely steps out of the sedate, safe life she has created with her fifteen year old daughter Julie. After experiencing another life-altering moment, Camille becomes aware that she has somehow overlooked some important changes in her daughter.  Will this stunning realization allow her to see past her own fears in order to allow Julie the freedom to spread her wings and enjoy life to the fullest? Or will Camille continue to let her past to shape her future?

Camille is quite close with her father, Henri Palmer, who left his small town in the French countryside to emigrate to America. As an American who romanticizes and idealizes the French, I immediately turned to my husband and asked, “why would a Frenchman abandon an idyllic life in FRANCE to permanently move to the United States?” The answer to that question stretches back to World War II and the beautiful, brave woman who refused to allow the Germans to defeat her after they invade her small country village.

In Map of the Heart, Susan Wiggs seamlessly weaves these two seemingly disparate story arcs into a heartwarming novel of healing and love. The novel’s picturesque settings spring vibrantly to life and readers will have no difficulty visualizing the coastal town of Bethany Bay or the bucolic French countryside.  The characters are multi-dimensional with true to life human frailties and foibles that make them easy to relate to as they attempt to make peace with their respective pasts.  I absolutely adored and highly recommend this captivating novel to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Historical, Historical (40s), Map of the Heart, Rated B+, Romance, Susan Wiggs, William Morrow, Women's Fiction

Review: The Lost Ones by Sheena Kamal

Title: The Lost Ones by Sheena Kamal
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

A dark, compulsively readable psychological suspense debut, the first in a new series featuring the brilliant, fearless, chaotic, and deeply flawed Nora Watts—a character as heartbreakingly troubled, emotionally complex, and irresistibly compelling as Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander and Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole.

It begins with a phone call that Nora Watts has dreaded for fifteen years—since the day she gave her newborn daughter up for adoption. Bonnie has vanished. The police consider her a chronic runaway and aren’t looking, leaving her desperate adoptive parents to reach out to her birth mother as a last hope.

A biracial product of the foster system, transient, homeless, scarred by a past filled with pain and violence, Nora knows intimately what happens to vulnerable girls on the streets. Caring despite herself, she sets out to find Bonnie with her only companion, her mutt Whisper, knowing she risks reopening wounds that have never really healed—and plunging into the darkness with little to protect her but her instincts and a freakish ability to detect truth from lies.

The search uncovers a puzzling conspiracy that leads Nora on a harrowing journey of deception and violence, from the gloomy rain-soaked streets of Vancouver, to the icy white mountains of the Canadian interior, to the beautiful and dangerous island where she will face her most terrifying demon. All to save a girl she wishes had never been born.

Review:

The Lost Ones by Sheena Kamal is a rather gritty but surprisingly humorous mystery about recovering alcoholic and somewhat troubled Nora Watts’ efforts to locate missing Vancouver teenager Bonnie Walsh.

With an uncanny ability to tell when someone is lying, Nora’s job as a research assistant and receptionist for a journalist and private investigator is the perfect fit for her. She initially believes Everett Walsh is reaching out to her for assistance in locating fifteen year old Bonnie due to her employer.  Needless to say, she is shocked when Lynn Walsh blurts out the truth-Bonnie is the daughter Nora gave up for adoption immediately after giving birth. Her first instinct is to refuse their request, but given her firsthand experience as someone who has been easily overlooked due to her heritage and bad decisions, she knows all too well that the police will not take the Walsh’s concern seriously.  The discovery that someone has the Walsh home under surveillance is Nora’s first inkling that Bonnie’s disappearance might be more than just a troubled teenager running away from an unhappy home. She is also very concerned when someone from her own dark past starts immediately tries to make contact with her.  Not knowing whom to trust, Nora continues investigating Bonnie’s disappearance but it soon becomes quite clear that someone is willing to go to any lengths to ensure that she does not locate the missing teenager.

Nora  survived an incredibly violent and horrific ordeal and her scars run deep. A rough around the edges loner with trust issues, she does not like being in the limelight and she is most comfortable in the underbelly of society. She is long estranged from her sister Lorelei who does not temper her contempt for Nora or the mistakes she has made. Nora’s sobriety is hard won but the temptation to blunt her emotions is a daily battle that she wins only because of her beloved canine companion, Whisper. When Nora hits a brick wall in her investigation, she turns to her former AA sponsor and police detective Jon Brazura for assistance but she has plenty of misgivings about trusting him.

The Lost Ones is a dark mystery with an engaging and unpredictable storyline that is quite compelling. Despite her gruff exterior and dubious choices, Nora is a surprisingly sympathetic protagonist that is very easy to root for. Her investigation into Bonnie’s disappearance takes some very unexpected twists and turns and Sheena Kamal brings the novel to an adrenaline filled, nail biting conclusion.  A stunning debut fans of the genre are going to thoroughly enjoy.

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Filed under Contemporary, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Sheena Kamal, Suspense, The Lost Ones, William Morrow

Review: The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

Title: The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 357 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

With empathy, grace, humor, and piercing insight, the author of gods in Alabama pens a powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South that confronts the truth about privilege, family, and the distinctions between perception and reality—the stories we tell ourselves about our origins and who we really are.

Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs’ weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.

It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She’s having a baby boy—an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old’s life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel’s marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she’s been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother’s affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she’s pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she’s got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie’s been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family’s freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.

Review:

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson is a poignant and thought-provoking novel of secrets, complicated family relationships and the complexity of race relations the South today.

Just as Leia Birch Briggs is trying to figure how and when to break the news that she is going to become a single mom, her family begins imploding around her. Her “perfect” stepsister Rachel’s marriage is in serious trouble but the biggest blow is the discovery that her beloved ninety year old grandmother Birchie is suffering from Lewy Body dementia. With her thirteen year old niece Lavender in tow, Leia heads to Alabama to help Birchie and her best friend Wattie Price put their affairs in order while (hopefully) convincing them to move into assisted living. However, a stunning discovery sets the town’s tongues  a wagging and an unplanned pregnancy becomes the least of Leia’s concerns as she tries to protect Birchie and Wattie from the repercussions from something that occurred in the very distant past.

Leia is a self-proclaimed nerd who successfully parlayed her love of superheroes and graphic novels into an extremely lucrative career. Her recent attendance at a comic book convention turned out to be a double-edged sword as she enjoys her still unbelievable success as the author of a wildly popular graphic novel while coming face to face with the life she could have been living if not for her fear of getting her heart broken again. This culminates in her out of character decision to drown her sorrows and indulge in a drunken one-night stand with a fan who Leia only knows as Batman (due to his cosplay costume).

Now trying to deal with the consequences of her actions, Leia has barely come to terms with her impending motherhood when she walks into Rachel’s marital disaster. Their relationship is extremely complicated and she is at a loss at how to help Rachel since her stepsister never reveals any weakness to her. In fact, Rachel is typically a force to be reckoned with as she steamrolls her way into “fixing” Leia’s problems.

Distraction arrives in the form of Birchie’s very public meltdown and Leia knows it is past time for her to take a firm hand with Birchie and Wattie. She has barely unpacked when the situation with Birchie spirals out of control and Leia realizes her grandmother is harboring a secret that is much larger and more damaging than her impending motherhood.

With the small town divided along racial lines, Leia experiences an epiphany of sorts that provides her with an answer to a situation she has been wrestling with. It also opens her eyes to the truth about the underlying racial tensions that continue to plague the South in general and her grandmother’s small town in particular. This shocking discovery also leads her to a complicated realization about Wattie that leaves in her a moral quandary about the increasingly complicated situation with her grandmother.

With an astute storyline, delightfully charming characters and a heartwarming small town setting, The Almost Sisters is a riveting novel of healing and new beginnings.  Joshilyn Jackson does not shy away from tough subject matter and she handles these difficult issues with humor, sensitivity and perceptive observations that will resonate with readers. I absolutely loved and highly recommend this incredibly entertaining, insightful and heartfelt story.

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Filed under Contemporary, Fiction, Joshilyn Jackson, Rated B+, Review, The Almost Sisters, William Morrow

Review: You’ll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron

Title: You’ll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

An addictive novel of psychological suspense from the award-winning author of Night Night, Sleep Tight, about three generations of women haunted by a little girl’s disappearance, and the porcelain doll that may hold the key to the truth . . .

Seven-year-old Lissie Woodham and her four-year-old sister Janey were playing with their porcelain dolls in the front yard when an adorable puppy scampered by. Eager to pet the pretty dog, Lissie chased after the pup as it ran down the street. When she returned to the yard, Janey’s precious doll was gone . . . and so was Janey.

Forty years after Janey went missing, Lis—now a mother with a college-age daughter of her own—still blames herself for what happened. Every year on the anniversary of her sister’s disappearance, their mother, Miss Sorrel, places a classified ad in the local paper with a picture of the toy Janey had with her that day—a one-of-a-kind porcelain doll—offering a generous cash reward for its return. For years, there’s been no response. But this year, the doll came home.

It is the first clue in a decades-old mystery that is about to turn into something far more sinister—endangering Lis and the lives of her mother and daughter as well. Someone knows the truth about what happened all those years ago, and is desperate to keep it hidden.

Review:

You’ll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron is a fast-paced and engrossing mystery that centers around the forty year disappearance of Janey Woodham.

Every year on the anniversary of her daughter’s disappearance, Miss Sorrel Woodham runs a newspaper ad offering a reward for the return of Janey’s porcelain doll which vanished along with the long missing girl. This year, a young woman brings a doll that Miss Sorrel is certain belongs to her daughter. However, Lis Strenger, who continues to feel guilty for her sister’s disappearance, is not as convinced. That same evening, an inexplicable explosion injures both women and when Lis’s daughter Vanessa returns to the family home, she is confused to discover Miss Sorrel’s prized doll collection has been stolen.  Equally puzzling is next door neighbor and family friend Evelyn Dumont’s insistence that Miss Sorrel’s conviction the porcelain doll belongs to Janey is nothing more than wishful thinking. Lis and Vanessa decide to locate the young woman who delivered the doll but will they find the answers they are searching for?

Lis wants nothing more than to find out the truth about what happened to Janey, so she is impatient with the local police department’s lack of urgency in locating the woman who brought them the doll. With Vanessa’s help, they quickly uncover the identity and address of the person they are searching for. Their arrival at the Maggie Richards’ home is just the first of many surprises surrounding Maggie and her mom, Jenny.

Despite police assurance they are taking the situation seriously, Lis continues her own investigation. She is puzzled when information she uncovers is quickly contradicted by the police.  Are her results wrong? Or is there a more sinister reason for the discrepancy?  Lis cannot begin to guess who would want to interfere with the investigation but she refuses to stop searching for the truth about what happened to Janey. The discovery that another young girl connected to her mother’s porcelain doll business also disappeared years after Janey’s kidnapping is yet another shocking bit of news and Lis is determined to continue looking for the truth. How far will the perpetrator go to keep their long buried secrets from being uncovered?

You’ll Never Know, Dear is an intriguing mystery that fans of the genre will enjoy. The storyline is unusual and the creepy porcelain dolls are shudder inducing.  While it is rather easy to guess the identity of the kidnapper, the motive for the crime remains elusive.  Hallie Ephron brings this suspense-laden mystery to an action-filled, satisfying conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Hallie Ephron, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense, William Morrow, You'll Never Know Dear