Category Archives: Gallery Books

Review: The Unforgotten by Laura Powell

Title: The Unforgotten by Laura Powell
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Historical/Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


For fans of Louise Penny and Tana French, this haunting debut novel “with a slight Broadchurch feel” (Sunday Herald) explores the devastating repercussions of a long-ago crime as it delves into forbidden relationships, the emotional bond between mothers and daughters, and the dark consequences of harboring secrets.

It is the summer of 1956, and fifteen-year-old Betty Broadbent has never left the Cornish fishing village of St. Steele or ventured far beyond the walls of the Hotel Eden, the slightly ramshackle boarding house run by her moody, unpredictable mother. But Betty’s world is upended when a string of brutal murders brings London’s press corps flooding into the village, many of whom find lodging at the Hotel Eden. She is instantly transfixed by one of the reporters, the mysterious and strangely aloof Mr. Gallagher—and he, fully twice her age, seems equally transfixed by her.

The unlikely relationship that blooms between Betty and Mr. Gallagher is as overlaid with longing and desire as it is with impropriety and even menace. And as the shocking death toll rises, both Betty and Mr. Gallagher are forced to make a devastating choice, one that will shape their own lives—and the life of an innocent man—forever.

With narratives that shift from 1956 to the present day and back, The Unforgotten is a mesmerizing and eerie portrayal of two people bound to each other by a secret that has the power to shape, and destroy, lives.


Weaving back and forth between past and present, The Unforgotten by Laura Powell is an intriguing mystery about a spate of murders in a seaside town.

In 1956, fifteen year old Betty Broadbent lives with her mom, Dolores, who manages the Hotel Eden in St. Steele. When young women are targeted by a particularly vicious killer, several journalists descend on the small town as they cover the story.  Betty is instantly fascinated with Gallagher, a reporter who is twice her age. Despite her mom’s best efforts to pair her daughter with George Paxon, the son of a wealthy factory owner, Betty and Gallagher are soon seeing one another in secret due to the impropriety of their fledgling romance. In between trying to convince Gallagher there is nothing wrong with their relationship, Betty covers for her mother, who seems to be suffering from bipolar disorder and a drinking problem.

In 2006, Mary Sugden has received a troubling diagnosis but before she can tell her husband, Jerry and daughter Cath about it, she is distracted by a troubling news story about the person who was convicted of the brutal murders in St. Steele a half a century earlier.  Mary is determined to right a wrong, so she tracks down the only person who can possibly prove what she believes to the identity of the real killer.

Both storylines are interesting but the story arc set in 1956 is rather slow paced and none of the characters are particularly well-developed or likable. Betty is a curious blend of mature and hopelessly naive. She is obviously dealing with a lot since her mother’s behavior is unpredictable as she veers back and forth between manic highs and bouts of deep depression which leave her bedridden. Dolores is also searching for love and her heart is broken numerous times when these relationships inevitably end. Betty is obedient to her mother but she is impatient with Dolores’ attempt to set her up with George. Needless to say, once Betty meets Gallagher, she cannot bring herself to completely reject George, but she definitely becomes more resistant to her mother’s matchmaking. Betty is also frustrated by Gallagher’s frequent changes of heart where she is concerned.

Readers who are expecting a straight up mystery will most likely be underwhelmed by how quickly the murders take a bit of a backseat to the drama playing out in the Hotel Eden.  The few mentions of the ongoing investigation paint a portrait of a suspect being railroaded as the police try to wrap up the case in order to placate the frightened townspeople. It is not until the events in present that the person convicted of the crimes is named but is this person actually responsible for the murders?

The Unforgotten by Laura Powell is a character driven novel with a fascinating mystery to solve.  Unfortunately, the plot is rather melodramatic and it is difficult to become overly invested with the characters since they are so poorly developed and impossible to like. The identity of the killer is rather easy to guess even though the motive for the crimes is elusive.  There are a few unexpected twists that are revealed later in the story but the conclusion is abrupt and somewhat unsatisfying.

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Filed under Contemporary, Gallery Books, Historical, Historical (50s), Laura Powell', Mystery, Review, Suspense, The Unforgotten

Review: Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper

Title: Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper
Southern Eclectic Series Book One
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Beloved author Molly Harper launches a brand-new contemporary romance series, Southern Eclectic, with this story of a big-city party planner who finds true love in a small Georgia town.

Nestled on the shore of Lake Sackett, Georgia is the McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop. (What, you have a problem with one-stop shopping?) Two McCready brothers started two separate businesses in the same building back in 1928, and now it’s become one big family affair. And true to form in small Southern towns, family business becomes everybody’s business.

Margot Cary has spent her life immersed in everything Lake Sackett is not. As an elite event planner, Margot’s rubbed elbows with the cream of Chicago society, and made elegance and glamour her business. She’s riding high until one event goes tragically, spectacularly wrong. Now she’s blackballed by the gala set and in dire need of a fresh start—and apparently the McCreadys are in need of an event planner with a tarnished reputation.

As Margot finds her footing in a town where everybody knows not only your name, but what you had for dinner last Saturday night and what you’ll wear to church on Sunday morning, she grudgingly has to admit that there are some things Lake Sackett does better than Chicago—including the dating prospects. Elementary school principal Kyle Archer is a fellow fish-out-of-water who volunteers to show Margot the picture-postcard side of Southern living. The two of them hit it off, but not everybody is happy to see an outsider snapping up one of the town’s most eligible gentleman. Will Margot reel in her handsome fish, or will she have to release her latest catch?


The first full length novel in the Southern Eclectic series, Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper is an absolutely charming novel of new beginnings and coming to terms with the past.

Unable to find a job after her last event becomes famous for all the wrong reasons, Margot Cary very reluctantly accepts her  Great-Aunt Tootie’s offer to work in the family business.  Grudgingly relocating to Lake Sackett, GA, she is out of her comfort zone in too many ways to count.  Margot is surprisingly enchanted by her extended family but unsurprisingly, her estranged father, Stan, continues to be a disappointment.  She is intrigued by Kyle Archer and although their attraction is mutual, are either of them ready for a relationship at this point in their lives?

Margot is a bit of a snob when she first moves to Lake Sackett and despite how out of place her fancy clothes and shoes are in the rural community, she clings to her big city ways.  She tries to keep her distance from her numerous family members, but they have a way of sneaking past her defenses. Charmed by their eccentricities and their big hearts, Margot cannot deny how much their easy acceptance of her means to her. However, Stan continues to keep his distance from her and she remains unforgiving when he blows his chance to start mending their strained relationship.  Despite slowly coming to appreciate and enjoy her close-knit family, Margot is still planning to leave town at the first opportunity.

Margot is absolutely delighted to meet someone who can commiserate with her adjustment to life in small town America.  As a transplant to Lake Sackett, Kyle has a pretty good idea just how much of a culture shock she is experiencing.  Their friendship is definitely a bright spot in her (hopefully) temporary relocation but will their unexpected attraction have any impact on her plans for her future? Well, considering just how ill-prepared she feels when confronted with the depth of Kyle’s situation, Margot is not sure she is the right person for him.

Sweet Tea and Sympathy is a humorous and poignant novel that is fast-paced and engaging.  Margot is initially a little off-putting but as she falls under the spell of her family, Kyle and Lake Sackett, she becomes much more sympathetic and likable. Despite a bit of a romantic element, Margot’s character growth is what drives the story and it is an absolute joy watching her connect with her relatives and sort through her tangled relationship with her father.  A heartwarming first installment in Molly Harper’s Southern Eclectic series that readers of women’s fiction are going to LOVE.

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Filed under Contemporary, Gallery Books, Molly Harper, Rated B+, Review, Southern Eclectic Series, Sweet Tea and Sympathy, Women's Fiction

Review: The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn

Title: The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Horror, Supernatural
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


An unforgettable horror novel from bestselling sensation Ania Ahlborn—hailed as a writer of “some of the most promising horror I’ve encountered in years” (New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire)—in which a small-town boy investigates the mysterious disappearance of his cousin and uncovers a terrifying secret kept hidden for years.

Young Jude Brighton has been missing for three days, and while the search for him is in full swing in the small town of Deer Valley, Oregon, the locals are starting to lose hope. They’re well aware that the first forty-eight hours are critical and after that, the odds usually point to a worst-case scenario. And despite Stevie Clark’s youth, he knows that, too; he’s seen the cop shows. He knows what each ticking moment may mean for Jude, his cousin and best friend.

That, and there was that boy, Max Larsen…the one from years ago, found dead after also disappearing under mysterious circumstances. And then there were the animals: pets gone missing out of yards. For years, the residents of Deer Valley have murmured about these unsolved crimes…and that a killer may still be lurking around their quiet town. Now, fear is reborn—and for Stevie, who is determined to find out what really happened to Jude, the awful truth may be too horrifying to imagine.


With a possibly unreliable narrator, supernatural elements and a mysterious disappearance of a  twelve year boy,  The Devil Crept In is the latest eerie and somewhat creepy horror novel by Ania Ahlborn.

Ten year old Stevie Clark is best friends with his twelve year old cousin Jude Brighton and when Jude goes missing, he is the only person in town who takes his disappearance seriously.  Due to his stutter and overactive imagination, Stevie is a bit of a social pariah in town which makes his friendship with Jude that much more important to him.  Everyone in town considers Jude a troublemaker so it is little surprise that the general consensus is he has run away from home.  Stevie knows without a doubt that his cousin would never voluntarily abandon him, so Stevie gathers his courage to help search for Jude.  A grisly discovery indicates Jude might be the victim of foul play so Stevie decides to investigate his best friend’s disappearance in earnest.  Deciding to venture to the spooky house that Jude is so fascinated with, Stevie is frightened by what he sees, but Jude’s sudden reappearance puts an end to any further investigation.  At first relieved his best friend has returned unharmed, Stevie becomes frightened by the differences he notices in Jude.  Although no one seems aware that anything is amiss, Stevie is determined to understand what happened to Jude in the woods but will anyone believe him once he uncovers the truth?

Told in three parts, part one delves into Jude and Stevie’s somewhat tragic childhoods and follows Jude’s disappearance and Stevie’s search for his cousin.  Stevie is an incredibly sympathetic ten year old boy but his various problems make him an unreliable narrator.  At one time a happy, normal child, he inexplicably began stuttering and experiencing night terrors and hallucinations.  His home life worsened dramatically following his father’s abandonment and his mom’s involvement with an abusive and volatile man who does not hesitate to mete out corporal punishment.  Although always rambunctious, Jude essentially turned into a surly juvenile delinquent after this father’s death.  The two boys are now inseparable and Stevie is quite forgiving after he occasionally becomes the object of Jude’s mean streak.

The second part of the story provides the backstory of Rosamund “Rosie” Aleksander, an emotionally damaged recluse once married to a local doctor.  Rosie is inconsolable after a tragic loss and her attempt to escape her pain leads her to a stranger and a mysterious retreat. Returning to her beautiful home in the woods, Rosie’s deepest wish comes true but in a particularly cruel twist of fate, her dream soon turns into a horrific nightmare that tests her deepest bond.

Part three is where the two storylines come together with a terrifying supernatural twist that will put even the most ardent horror fan on the edge of their seat when evil is unleashed in the aftermath of Jude’s disappearance.  Stevie finally uncovers the ghastly secret about the strange occurrences that have happened in and around town over the last several years.  Just as he is piecing together the events that have plagued the town, Stevie also learns the stunning truth about what happened to Jude and in the aftermath of his discoveries, his life goes in a very shocking direction.

Although initially a little slow-paced, The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn catapults to an adrenaline filled and sinister conclusion.  An imaginative and suspense-laden novel that I highly recommend to fans of the horror genre.

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Filed under Ania Ahlborn, Contemporary, Gallery Books, Horror, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Supernatural Elements, The Devil Crept In

Review: No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

Title: No One Knows by J.T. Ellison
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


In an obsessive mystery as thrilling as The Girl on the Train and The Husband’s Secret, New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison will make you question every twist in her page-turning novel—and wonder which of her vividly drawn characters you should trust.

The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on; she wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?

In No One Knows, the New York Times bestselling coauthor of the Nicholas Drummond series expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. This masterful thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins will pull readers into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows.


No One Knows by J.T. Ellison is a riveting mystery that is full of twists and turns that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the novel’s jaw-dropping conclusion.

For five long years, Aubrey Hamilton has been haunted by her husband Josh’s disappearance from a friend’s bachelor party.  Almost certainly a victim of foul play, his body has never been recovered. Her mother-in-law Daisy’s petition to have her son legally declared dead has just been granted and Daisy is preparing to begin proceedings to receive the proceeds his five million dollar life insurance policy.  Aubrey is convinced Josh is dead but after meeting Chase Boden, a stranger who bears a startling resemblance to Josh, she begins to wonder if her husband might, in fact, actually be alive.

Aubrey is a fascinating character who has not had an easy life.  Orphaned at a young age, she grew up foster care where the things she was exposed to forced her to grow up way too fast.  Foster brother Tyler protected her as best he could but Aubrey always considered childhood friend turned sweetheart Josh her savior.  Although she did what she had to in order to survive her tough environment, Aubrey completely turned her life around for good guy Josh and their storybook marriage thrived despite Josh’s grueling residency schedule, staggering student loans and Daisy’s fierce dislike of her daughter-in-law.

By all appearances, it certainly seems as though Josh is deserving of Aubrey’s devotion and adoration.  He enjoyed a fairly idyllic childhood that was marred by Daisy’s intense antipathy towards Aubrey.  However, a shocking revelation drove a wedge between mother and son and while Josh grew closer to his stepfather, he distanced himself from Daisy.  Josh dreamed of becoming a doctor from a young age and he diligently worked toward achieving his goal.  Marrying Aubrey was the highlight of his life and their life together was absolutely perfect.  But, as we all know, nothing is as ever as perfect as it appears and once Josh is legally declared dead, Aubrey receives information that suggests Josh might not have as squeaky clean as she thought he was.

Aubrey’s chance meeting with Chase is the impetus she needs to stop mourning her loss and begin to move on with her life.  Deeply attracted to the handsome stranger, her out of character behavior with him sets the stage for a possible romance but thoughts of Josh continue to linger.  Determined to accept he is dead, Aubrey is shaken when she approached by a stranger who appears to have an agenda and she decides to look a little deeper into Josh’s disappearance.  A stunning revelation from her mother-in-law changes the course of her investigation but nothing can prepare Aubrey (or readers) for the shocking series of events that is about to occur.

Written from multiple points of view, No One Knows is a mesmerizing novel that will leave readers breathlessly anticipating the truth about what happened to Josh Hamilton.  J.T. Ellison skillfully weaves past and present into a compelling mystery that is part psychological thriller and part whodunit.  As the story unfolds, Aubrey becomes an increasingly unreliable narrator when disturbing information about her past is revealed. With each astonishing revelation and every shocking plot twist, No One Knows thunders to a conclusion that is absolutely stunning.

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Filed under Contemporary, Gallery Books, JT Ellison, Mystery, No One Knows, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Review: Angels Burning by Tawni O’Dell

angels burningTitle: Angels Burning by Tawni O’Dell
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah Book Club pick Back Roads comes this fast-paced literary thriller about a small town police chief who’s forced to dig into her own shadowy past as she investigates the murder of a teenage girl.

On the surface, Chief Dove Carnahan is a true trailblazer who would do anything to protect the rural Pennsylvanian countryside where she has lived all fifty of her years. Traditional and proud of her blue-collar sensibilities, Dove is loved by her community. But beneath her badge lies a dark and self-destructive streak, fed by a secret she has kept since she was sixteen.

When a girl is beaten to death, her body tossed down a fiery sinkhole in an abandoned coal town, Dove is faced with solving the worst crime of her law enforcement career. She identifies the girl as a daughter of the Truly family, a notoriously irascible dynasty of rednecks and petty criminals.

During her investigation, the man convicted of killing Dove’s mother years earlier is released from prison. Still proclaiming his innocence, he approaches Dove with a startling accusation and a chilling threat that forces her to face the parallels between her own family’s trauma and that of the Trulys.

With countless accolades to her credit, author Tawni O’Dell writes with the “fearless insights” (The New York Times Book Review) she brought to the page in Back Roads and One of Us. In this new, masterfully told psychological thriller, the past and present collide to reveal the extent some will go to escape their fate, and in turn, the crimes committed to push them back to where they began.


Despite plenty of dysfunction, despair and dark secrets, Angels Burning by Tawni O’Dell is a surprisingly light-hearted yet sometimes heartbreaking mystery set in a small Pennsylvania town.

Police Chief Dove Carnahan is shaken by the discovery of a burned body in the nearby abandoned mining town of Campbell’s Run but she is horrified to learn the victim is seventeen year old Camio Truly. Camio’s family is well-known for its frequent brushes with the law and somewhat tragic deaths, but Dove is stunned by their lack of interest in bringing Camio’s killer to justice. Stonewalled at every turn by the largely apathetic clan, Dove, along with State Police Detective Nolan Greely, unearth the family’s well-concealed secrets but is the information they discover a motive for murder? And if it is, is someone in the family Camio’s killer?

Although Dove is no stranger to dysfunction or tragedy, she does not let the past define her. Her neglectful but beautiful mother was brutally murdered when Dove was a teenager but she and her sister, Neely, have forged successful lives in the years since the crime. Unfortunately, their younger brother, Champ, has not fared as well as his sisters but when he turns up out of the blue after a decades’ long absence, the sisters are hopeful they can repair their distant relationship. Champ’s return and the murder investigation coincide with the release of Dove’s mother’s killer from prison and all of these events combined resurrect painful memories from her distant past but she remains committed to finding the person who murdered Camio.

Despite the lack of crime in the small town, Dove is an excellent investigator and she has an insider’s perspective of how her community works. She is keenly observant and empathetic but she also becomes very impatient with the Truly family’s lack of cooperation. Although her methods are occasionally a bit unorthodox, Dove uncovers valuable evidence that changes the course of the investigation. While troubled by the brewing problems in her personal life, Dove never loses focus of the task at hand and she eventually breaks the case wide open.

Poignant with an undercurrent of despair, Angels Burning is more than a mystery. This complex story has a cast of deeply flawed yet surprisingly sympathetic characters that are well-drawn and personable. The novel is intricately plotted with seemingly complicated storylines yet when the truth is finally revealed, reasons and motives are shockingly simple and easy to relate to. Another absolutely stellar novel by Tawni O’Dell that offers an intuitive and discerning peek into the seamier side of life in rural America.

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Filed under Angels Burning, Contemporary, Gallery Books, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, Tawni O'Dell

Review: The Guilty One by Sophie Littlefield

guilty oneTitle: The Guilty One by Sophie Littlefield
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the award-winning author of The Missing Place—in which “Littlefield’s writing shines” (The Boston Globe)—another gripping exploration of the damage people can do to each other, and the resilience they find in themselves.

A man stands on the Golden Gate Bridge, poised to jump…if a woman on the other end of the phone tells him to.

Maris’s safe suburban world was shattered the day her daughter was found murdered, presumably at the hands of the young woman’s boyfriend. Her marriage crumbling, her routine shattered, Maris walks away from her pampered life as a Bay Area mom the day she receives a call from Ron, father of her daughter’s killer. Wracked with guilt over his son’s actions (and his own possible contribution to them), he asks Maris a single question: should he jump?

With a man’s life in her hands, Maris must decide, perhaps for the first time, what she truly wants. Retribution? Forgiveness? Or something more? Having lost everything, she’s finally free to recreate herself without the confining labels of “wife,” “mother,” or “mourner.” But will this shocking offer free her, or destroy her?


The Guilty One by Sophie Littlefield is an intriguing character study that focuses primarily on two parents whose lives are forever intertwined by a senseless murder. What makes the premise of the novel so fascinating is one character is Maris Parker, the mother of the murdered teen while the other character is Ron Isherwood, the father of the convicted killer. The story begins about six weeks after the trial has ended and in the aftermath of the conviction, both families are attempting to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

For the past year, Maris has been paralyzed by overwhelming grief and her life has come to a virtual standstill. Now the trial is over, the sentence has been handed down and she must figure out what comes next for her. Her husband, Jeff, has moved out and announced he wants a divorce. While she contemplates her future, she is planning to spend a few weeks with her sister. She is rather ambivalent about the upcoming visit and after her car is broken into, Maris befriends a young woman and impulsively rents an apartment in her building where she begins re-evaluating her life.

Unlike his wife, Deb, Ron has never been completely convinced of his son’s innocence and after his conviction, Ron cannot bring himself to visit him in prison. He has come to the realization that his family’s history of violence might have passed down to his son and he is overcome with guilt for his son’s crime. Like Maris, Ron has essentially checked out life and as the story begins, he is finally ready to end his own life in a misguided effort to atone for his son Karl’s misdeeds. However, Ron makes a fateful decision to phone Maris before jumping which essentially saves his life and winds up being the impetus for both of them to truly move forward with their lives.

Both Ron and Maris are sympathetic characters but it is sometimes difficult to like them. Maris is not honest with her new friends and she takes a little too long to come clean about her past. She is also incredibly angry with Jeff and her anger seems a little over the top considering that she made her share of mistakes during their marriage. It is also very frustrating how Maris continually avoids confrontation instead of facing it head on. Her grief over her daughter’s death is particularly heartbreaking but her new friends and simpler lifestyle provide her with a different perspective that helps Maris decide what she wants in life.

Ron grew up in an abusive household and he has tried very hard to leave his violent past behind him. He kept much of what occurred in his childhood hidden from Deb and he has worked hard to maintain tight control over his own aggressive tendencies. Looking back, Ron now wonders if he was too hard on Karl and one incident in particular continues to haunt him. One of the biggest questions that weighs heavily on Ron is how much responsibility he bears for his son’s actions. In hindight, he cannot but question his decision to have children considering his family’s history.

With underlying themes of forgiveness and redemption, The Guilty One is a compelling novel. Although not a true mystery, Sophie Littlefield builds suspense about Karl’s guilt or innocence and the resolution of this part of the storyline is full of unexpected twists and turns. Overall, it is an engaging story that is poignant, thought-provoking and emotionally satisfying.

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Filed under Contemporary, Gallery Books, Rated B, Review, Sophie Littlefield, Suspense, The Guilty One