Category Archives: William Morrow Paperbacks

Review: Look for Her by Emily Winslow

Title: Look for Her by Emily Winslow
Keene and Frohmann Series Book Four
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

Lilling might seem like an idyllic English village, but it’s home to a dark history. In 1976, a teenage girl named Annalise Wood disappeared, and though her body was later discovered, the culprit was never found. Decades later, Annalise maintains a perverse kind of celebrity, and is still the focus of grief, speculation, and for one young woman, a disturbing, escalating jealousy.

When DNA linked to the Annalise murder unexpectedly surfaces, cold case detective Morris Keene and his former partner, Chloe Frohmann, hope to finally bring closure to this traumatized community. But the new evidence instead undoes the case’s only certainty: the buried body that had long ago been confidently identified as Annalise may be someone else entirely, and instead of answers, the investigators face only new puzzles.

Whose body was unearthed all those years ago, and what happened to the real Annalise? Is someone interfering with the investigation? And is there a link to a present-day drowning with eerie connections? With piercing insight and shocking twists, Emily Winslow explores the dark side of sensationalized crime in this haunting psychological thriller.

Review:

Look for Her by Emily Winslow is a baffling mystery about a decades old murder that has yet to be solved. Although this newest release is the  fourth installment in the Keene and Frohmann series, it can be read as a standalone.

Morris Keene is now a civilian working in the cold case squad and his current case involves a recent DNA match in the long unsolved murder of teenager Annalise Wood. In 1986, Annalise disappeared on her way home from school but her skeletonzied remains were not discovered until 1992.  Advances in DNA testing reveal a match for a stain found on her skirt and Morris asks his former partner, DI Chloe Frohmann, who is currently on maternity leave, to accompany him as he interviews the suspect.  Although their relationship has been a little strained due to a previous case, the two still work well together.

At the same time as the Annalise investigation is finding new life, therapist Dr. Laurie Ambrose encounters two patients who have mentioned the missing young woman. One client’s obsession is due to the fact her mother knew Annalise when they were kids. Her other client has recently learned about a possible connection to Annalise. Laurie is stunned to learn that one of these two women has recently died and her death might be the result of foul play.

The two story arcs unexpectedly converge following the death of Laurie’s patient. Morris is still trying to figure out the implications of the information revealed during his meeting with the new suspect in Annalise’s murder. His investigation leads to a very unexpected conclusion which coincides with the suspicious death of Laurie’s patient.  At this point, Morris ends up working with a Detective Sergeant with whom he shares a tangled history but he puts aside his animosity long enough for them to make significant progress on the recent death. Morris then turns his attention back to Annalise’s case where he makes an absolutely astonishing discovery.

Look for Her is a twist-filled police procedural that is intricately-plotted and well executed.  Morris and Chloe are fantastic protagonists whose history is complex and quite interesting. The two story arcs intertwine in a unexpected, but completely believable manner.  Although the pacing is a little slow initially, it eventually hits its stride once the connection between Laurie’s patients and Morris and Chloe’s cold case investigation is revealed. Emily Winslow brings the novel to a stunning, but completely satisfying, conclusion. This newest addition to the Keene and Frohmann series is a clever mystery that fans of the genre are sure to enjoy.  

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Filed under Contemporary, Emily Winslow, Keene and Frohmann Series, Look for Her, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense, William Morrow Paperbacks

Review: The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard

Title: The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Historical (40s), Fiction
Length:384 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

In the bestselling tradition of Hidden Figures and The Wives of Los Alamos, comes this riveting novel of the everyday people who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II.

“What you see here, what you hear here, what you do here, let it stay here.”

In November 1944, eighteen-year-old June Walker boards an unmarked bus, destined for a city that doesn’t officially exist. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has sprung up in a matter of months—a town of trailers and segregated houses, 24-hour cafeterias, and constant security checks. There, June joins hundreds of other young girls operating massive machines whose purpose is never explained. They know they are helping to win the war, but must ask no questions and reveal nothing to outsiders.

The girls spend their evenings socializing and flirting with soldiers, scientists, and workmen at dances and movies, bowling alleys and canteens. June longs to know more about their top-secret assignment and begins an affair with Sam Cantor, the young Jewish physicist from New York who oversees the lab where she works and understands the end goal only too well, while her beautiful roommate Cici is on her own mission: to find a wealthy husband and escape her sharecropper roots. Across town, African-American construction worker Joe Brewer knows nothing of the government’s plans, only that his new job pays enough to make it worth leaving his family behind, at least for now. But a breach in security will intertwine his fate with June’s search for answers.

When the bombing of Hiroshima brings the truth about Oak Ridge into devastating focus, June must confront her ideals about loyalty, patriotism, and war itself.

Review:

The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard is an absolutely fascinating novel about four disparate people who work at the atomic research lab in Oak Ridge, TN during World War II.

Eighteen year old June Walker is a farm girl whose future husband is killed not long after he enlists in WW II. Leaving her family and small town behind, she goes to the super secret military reservation in the newly created Oak Ridge, TN which, coincidentally, is built on land her grandfather and his neighbors were forced to sell to the Army. After filling out reams of paperwork, she is assigned to a boring job adjusting knobs for a project she knows nothing about.

June’s roommate, Cici Roberts, is a beautiful yet shallow young woman who is popular with the men but not very well liked by women other than June. Cici is a fun-loving, good-time girl who has a very selfish reason for accepting a job in Oak Ridge. While the two women are initially rather good friends, they eventually fall out over June’s boyfriend, Dr. Sam Cantor.

Originally excited to leave academia for a job at the lab, Sam’s enthusiasm soon wanes once he fully comprehends the magnitude of the  work he is doing. He is rather morose and drinks to excess to deal with his conflicted feelings. He works in the same building as June and their chance meeting at a New Year’s Eve party is the beginning of their unlikely romance.

Joe Brewer left his wife and three children behind in Alabama when he took the job as a construction worker at Oak Ridge. The negro workers are not allowed to live with their spouses and Joe misses his family desperately. He is also growing quite concerned over his friend Ralph’s friendships with other activists who are working to improve condition for the negro workers.

With the war in Europe finally winding down, the race to develop a bomb before the Germans loses its urgency but work still continues at Oak Ridge and Los Alamos, NM. The project remains shrouded in secrecy although Sam has confided in June the exact nature of their research. The various situations for June, Sam, Cici and Joe quickly come to a head as the US continues fighting the Japanese and the scientists’ research finally culminates in success. Cici is disgusted by June’s romance with the much older, Jewish scientist and their friendship suffers as a consequence. Joe is increasingly worried about Ralph as racial tensions increase. As Sam becomes more despondent and his drinking escalates, his relationship with June continues to deteriorate.

The Atomic City Girls is an educational exploration of a mostly unknown piece of American history.  The characters are well-developed and add vital insight to the events that are unfolding. Although Los Alamos is famous for its part in the building of the atomic bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Oak Ridge, TN’s role is not well publicized.  Janet Beard’s meticulous research brings this little known but immensely interesting portion of history vibrantly to life. This all around riveting read also includes a lovely epilogue so readers know what happens to the various characters long after their lives intersect in Oak Ridge.

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Filed under Fiction, Historical, Historical (40s), Janet Beard, Rated B+, Review, The Atomic City Girls, William Morrow Paperbacks

Review: Sunday Silence by Nicci French

Title: Sunday Silence by Nicci French
Frieda Klein Series Book Seven
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre:Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

It started with Monday. But it doesn’t end with Sunday.

Read Sunday Silence, the new novel in the series that LOUISE PENNY calls “fabulous, unsettling, and riveting”  and brace yourself for the breathtaking series finale in summer 2018.

Lover of London, gifted psychologist, frequent police consultant  Frieda Klein is many things. And now she’s a person of interest in a murder case. A body has been discovered in the most unlikely and horrifying of places: beneath the floorboards of Frieda’s house.

The corpse is only months old, but the chief suspect appears to have died more than seven years ago. Except as Frieda knows all too well, he’s alive and well and living in secret. And it seems he’s inspired a copycat…

As the days pass and the body count rises, Frieda finds herself caught in a fatal tug-of-war between two killers: one who won’t let her go, and another who can’t let her live.

Crackling with suspense, packed with emotion, Sunday Silence is a psychological thriller perfect for fans of Elizabeth George and Paula Hawkins.

Review:

Sunday Silence by Nicci French is an intriguing and fast paced mystery. Although this newest release is the seventh installment in the Frieda Klein series, it works well as a standalone.

Psychotherapist and occasional police consultant Frieda Klein is very upset to discover the mutilated corpse of Bruce Stringer, the private detective she hired, under the floorboards in her home. She suspects the killer is Dean Reeve, who is a presumed dead serial killer. With her friend DCI Malcolm Karlsson on leave with an injury, Frieda must convince Chief Inspector Petra Burge that Reeve is not only alive, but responsible for Stringer’s death. Six months later, the case is cold, and Frieda’s family and friends are being targeted for random acts of violence and the police are forced to admit Reeve is still alive. But Frieda soon believes that someone other than Reeve is responsible for these recent attacks.  With the media hounding her, Frieda agrees to an interview with reporter Daniel Blackstock in hopes of flushing out the elusive killer.

Frieda is very cool and reserved under pressure which leads people to believe that she is not distressed by the recent events. When her friends and family are in danger, her concern for their safety leads  her to make a very out of character decision to try to keep them safe. Despite having mixed feelings about this choice and fearing she has made a big mistake, Frieda nonetheless presses on in her attempt to find the person responsible for harming her loved ones. With often nebulous impressions that are hard to explain to the police working the case, Frieda concentrates on finding the link between her and the person who is using her family to rattle her. Certain she has zeroed in the right suspect, Frieda is soon in a race against time to locate the most recent victim before it is too late.

Sunday Silence is an engrossing and suspense laden mystery with a clever storyline. With plenty of twists and turns, Nicci French pits Frieda against a formidable foe who is convinced no one will figure out their devious plan. With most of the loose ends completely wrapped up, the novel ends with a stunning cliffhanger that will leave readers desperately awaiting the next installment in the Frieda Klein series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Frieda Klein Series, Mystery, Nicci French, Rated B, Review, Sunday Silence, Suspense, William Morrow Paperbacks

Review: The Girl in Times Square by Paullina Simons

Title: The Girl in Times Square by Paullina Simons
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Mystery
Length: 608 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

International bestselling author Paullina Simons delivers a riveting novel about a young woman whose search for her missing friend turns into a life-shattering odyssey.

The truth will change her forever.

Living in bustling New York City, Lily Quinn has plenty of distractions and is struggling to finish college as well as pay her rent. But that all pales in comparison when Amy, her best friend and roommate, disappears without a trace.

Spencer O’Malley, a cynical NYPD detective assigned to Amy’s case, immediately captures Lily’s attention. Though he is wary and wrestling with his own demons, he, too, is irresistibly drawn to Lily.

But fate has more in store for Lily than she ever expected. As she looks deeper into the mystery surrounding Amy’s disappearance, Lily finds answers she never imagined she’d find—answers that challenge everything she knows about her own life.

Lily’s search puts her on a collision course with tragedy and love, and gives her a glimpse into the abyss that swallowed her friend . . . until she faces a final confrontation with her own life-changing destiny.

Review:

Weighing in at hefty 608 pages, The Girl in Times Square by Paullina Simons is a lengthy, occasionally meandering novel, that  begins as a mystery then turns into a family drama and toward the end, a romance.  A solid read, but some readers might lose patience with the time it takes to resolve the multiple story arcs.

At twenty-four, Lily Quinn is broke and struggling to complete her degree when her roommate, Amy McFadden, goes missing.  Lily is bit aimless and drifting, easy to manipulate and a somewhat fanciful young woman who is often her own worst enemy as she ignores problems instead of dealing with them. She is also amazingly unhelpful when missing persons Detective Spencer O’Malley questions her about Amy after she is reported missing by her mother. Lily is not an easy character to like or empathize with as she faces some very daunting issues that extend behind her missing roommate.

Spencer O’Malley is a crack detective whose personal life is full of tragedy.  He is closemouthed about his private life but very dedicated to his career. Despite spending his days immersed in the darker side of life, Spencer is kind, caring and compassionate. He has a pretty good idea what happened to Amy and he also has a viable suspect to investigate. But he is in for an uphill battle to find out the truth as he quickly discovers that Lily’s answers are vague and without much substance and his prime suspect uses his position to try to ruin O’Malley’s career.

Lily’s family is dysfunctional and every member is somewhat self-absorbed. Her mother is a raging alcoholic and her father is the worst type of enabler who is miserable in his marriage yet he cannot bring himself to walk away. Her sisters are selfish and completely disinterested in Lily’s life until they stand to gain something from her. Lily is close to her much older brother Andrew, but as she comes to discover, he is not the man she thinks he is. Lily’s grandma is the best of the lot but even she has a few idiosyncrasies and quirks.

Although it takes a while to hit its stride, The Girl in Times Square is an interesting novel but is does suffer a bit of an identity crisis due to the numerous story arcs and multiple genres.  The mystery surrounding Amy’s disappearance is the most compelling part of the novel, but for a good portion of the story, it takes a backseat to the unfolding drama with Lily and her broken family. Despite his flaws (and maybe because of them?) Spencer is the most likable and realistic character in the book.  With unexpected twists, shocking turns and a bit of melodrama, Paullina Simons wraps up the novel’s various storylines and brings the novel to a decent conclusion. However, there are a few threads left dangling since the fate of one of the characters remains unknown.

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Filed under Contemporary, Mystery, Paullina Simons, Rated B, Review, The Girl in Times Square, William Morrow Paperbacks, Women's Fiction

Review: The Missing by C.L. Taylor

Title: The Missing by C.L. Taylor
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 496 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

In this harrowing psychological thriller about a missing teenage boy whose mother must expose the secrets within their own family if she wants to find her son—perfect for fans of Reconstructing Amelia.

You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them. Or do you…?

When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire Wilkinson, blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinsons are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.

Claire is sure of two things—that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.

A mother’s instinct is never wrong. Or is it…?

Combining an unreliable narrator and fast-paced storytelling, The Missing is a chilling novel of psychological suspense that will thoroughly captivate and obsess readers.

Review:

The Missing by C.L. Taylor is an incredibly fast-paced and suspenseful mystery about a missing fifteen year old and his mother’s attempts to locate him.

Six months after their son Billy vanished without a trace, Claire Wilkinson and her husband Mark are making a another media appearance in hopes of uncovering new information. When their appeal is derailed by their nineteen year old Jake’s drunken behavior, the family becomes even more fractured than before. Jake turns to drink to help him cope, his girlfriend, Kira Simmons, who lives with the family, loses herself in her college classes and Mark continues traveling for work. However, Claire begins experiencing inexplicable episodes of amnesia that while deeply troubling, do not distract her from her increasingly frantic efforts to locate Billy.

Written primarily from Claire’s perspective, her anguish and worry are palpable as she remains convinced Billy will safely return home. In the aftermath of her first terrifying fugue state, she is of course very concerned about what happened to her, but she does not allow this to keep her doing everything possible to unearth new leads about Billy. Her desperation leads to some very questionable decisions that put her into potentially dangerous situations. Claire refuses to give up hope that Billy is alive and as she tries to find out the truth about what happened to her son, she gradually realizes that she does not know her loved ones as well as she thought.

The unfolding story is interspersed with message exchanges between two unknown people that take place during the months leading up to Billy’s disappearance. While it is somewhat easy to surmise one of the authors of the messages is most likely Billy, the other person’s identity remains shrouded in mystery. These messages offer a distressing snapshot of Billy’s activities with this person and they also provide an intriguing peek into his strained relationships at home.

The Missing is an absolutely spellbinding mystery with a clever plot and a sympathetic yet increasingly unreliable narrator. C.L. Taylor brilliantly keeps readers guessing about whether or not Billy is alive and who might be responsible for his disappearance. The message exchanges are thought-provoking and provide fascinating insight into Billy’s life in the months before he vanished. However, the truth about what happened to him is cunningly concealed until the very dramatic and positively stunning conclusion. I highly scintillating psychological thriller to fans of the genre.

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Filed under CL Taylor, Contemporary, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Missing, William Morrow Paperbacks

Review: The It Girls by Karen Harper

Title: The It Girls by Karen Harper
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Historical, Fiction
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

From New York Times bestselling author Karen Harper comes a novel based on the lives of two amazing sisters . . .

One sailed the Titanic and started a fashion empire . . .

The other overtook Hollywood and scandalized the world . . .

Together, they were unstoppable.

They rose from genteel poverty, two beautiful sisters, ambitious, witty, seductive. Elinor and Lucy Sutherland are at once each other’s fiercest supporters and most vicious critics.

Lucy transformed herself into Lucile, the daring fashion designer who revolutionized the industry with her flirtatious gowns and brazen self-promotion. And when she married Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon her life seemed to be a fairy tale. But success came at many costs—to her marriage and to her children . . . and then came the fateful night of April 14, 1912 and the scandal that followed.

Elinor’s novels titillate readers, and it’s even asked in polite drawing rooms if you would like to “sin with Elinor Glyn?” Her work pushes the boundaries of what’s acceptable; her foray into the glittering new world of Hollywood turns her into a world-wide phenomenon. But although she writes of passion, the true love she longs for eludes her.

But despite quarrels and misunderstandings, distance and destiny, there is no bond stronger than that of the two sisters—confidants, friends, rivals and the two “It Girls” of their day.

Review:

Beginning in 1875 and spanning several decades, The It Girls by Karen Harper is a fictionalized novel about real life sisters, Lucy (Lucile) & Elinor (Nellie) Sutherland.

Rising from humble beginnings, Lucy and Elinor’s professional lives took divergent paths, but their personal lives bear startling similarities. Both women are rather impetuous and neither of them make the best decisions regarding the men in their lives. Each of their marriages are somewhat disastrous and they both embark on somewhat scandalous love affairs. Lucy’s love of fashion results in a lucrative career as a designer while Elinor goes on to enjoy success as an author even though her books are rather risqué.  Lucy survives the sinking of the Titantic and later goes on to face a few legal challenges regarding her fashion designs.  In addition to her novels, Elinor pens a few screenplays and mingles with some the famous actors of the silent film era.

Despite the sisters’  fascinating accomplishments, The It Girls is rather slow moving and a little choppy since the novel covers several decades of their lives. The characterization of the women is a little superficial and despite their very different interests, they lack individuality on paper.  While the story is not without flaws, Karen Harper effectively brings attention to two successful women who were very much ahead their time.

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Filed under Fiction, Historical, Karen Harper, Rated C, Review, The It Girls, William Morrow Paperbacks