Must Reads of February 2014 (Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction)

Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction for February (click on the covers to pre-order)! Note I took out the Top 10, because I never (ever) can keep it to just 10. These are in no particular order. 


girlwithaclockThe Girl With a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson (HarperCollins-Feb. 4th)

Synopsis-An atmospheric tale of romantic noir with shades of Hitchcock about a man who is swept into a vortex of irresistible passion and murder when an old love mysteriously reappears

George Foss, a forty-year-old employee of a Boston literary magazine, has passed the age when he thinks he might fall madly in love or take the world by storm, or have anything truly remarkable happen to him. He spends most of his evenings at his local tavern talking about the Red Sox and the minutiae of everyday life, and obsessing over a lost love from his college days who vanished twenty years earlier. Until she reappears.

George has both dreamed of and dreaded seeing Liana Decter again. She isn’t just an ex-girlfriend or the first love George could never forget. She’s also an enigma and quite possibly someone who was involved in a murder years ago, a woman whose transgressions are more in line with Greek tragedy than youthful indiscretion. But suddenly, she’s back—and she needs his help. She says that some men are after her and that they believe she’s stolen money from them. And now they will do whatever it takes to get it back.

George knows Liana is trouble. But he can’t say no—he never could—and soon his quiet life is gone as he is pulled into a terrifying whirlpool of lies, betrayal, and murder from which there is no sure escape.

Bold and masterful, full of malevolent foreboding and subtle surprises, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart is an addictive, nonstop reading experience—an ever-tightening coil of suspense that will hold you in its grip right up to its electrifying end.



underyourskinUnder Your Skin by Sabine Durrant (Atria-Feb. 4th)

Synopsis-Gaby Mortimer is the woman who has it all. But everything changes when she finds a body on the common near her home. She’s shaken and haunted by the image of the lifeless young woman, and frightened that the killer, still at large, could strike again.

Before long, the police have a lead. The evidence points to a very clear suspect. One Gaby never saw coming . . .

Full of twists and turns, this is a dark and suspenseful psychological thriller that will make you secondguess everything. Because you can never be too sure about anything, especially when it comes to murder.


thewinterpeople

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon (Knopf-Feb. 11th)
Synopsis-West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.


lovestorywithmurdersLove Story, With Murders by Harry Bingham (Delacorte-Feb. 18th)
Synopsis-Harry Bingham’s Talking to the Dead introduced readers to one of the most compelling new heroines in crime fiction, Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, earning comparisons to Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander. Now D.C. Griffiths returns to investigate a series of gruesome murders—and their connection to her own shadowy past.

D.C. Fiona Griffiths is facing the prospect of a dull weekend when the call comes in, something about illegal dumping in a Cardiff suburb. But when she arrives on the scene she finds, in a garage freezer, a severed human leg, complete with a pink suede high-heeled shoe.

South Wales police are able to ID the body part as that of a young woman who went missing five years earlier; a young woman who once made a living as an exotic dancer. All at once, Fiona’s job as a detective and her role as a loving daughter collide: Fiona’s father owns a Cardiff strip club and was once deeply involved in the local crime scene.

Still in recovery from a devastating psychotic breakdown, Fiona is wary of exploring a path that might end at her father’s door . . . yet her obsessive approach to criminal investigation leaves her no other option.

But Fiona’s specialty is not the living, it is the dead. And as she is just starting to get into the murdered girl’s head, a severed hand is found—and this one is male.

Soon, police are swamped with an increasing number of body parts found in and around suburban gardens, sheds, and garages. Media attention is intense, and investigators are working from a list of hundreds of persons of interest. When the department identifies the second victim, Fiona struggles to connect him with the dead stripper. What do the victims have in common? And why this macabre method of disposing the corpses?

The answers may be more than Fiona can handle. Because in order to solve the riddle of these hideous murders, D.C. Fiona Griffiths will have to delve into the mysteries of her past—and hope she comes out intact . . . and alive.


whilebeautysleptWhile Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell (Putnam-Feb. 20th)
Synopsis-I am not the sort of person about whom stories are told.

And so begins Elise Dalriss’s story. When she hears her great-granddaughter recount a minstrel’s tale about a beautiful princess asleep in a tower, it pushes open a door to the past, a door Elise has long kept locked. For Elise was the companion to the real princess who slumbered—and she is the only one left who knows what actually happened so many years ago. Her story unveils a labyrinth where secrets connect to an inconceivable evil. As only Elise understands all too well, the truth is no fairy tale.


museumofextraordinarythingsThe Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman (Scribner-Feb. 18th)
Synopsis-Mesmerizing and illuminating, Alice Hoffman’s The Museum of Extraordinary Things is the story of an electric and impassioned love between two vastly different souls in New York during the volatile first decades of the twentieth century.

Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.

The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as a tailor’s apprentice. When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance and ignites the heart of Coralie.

With its colorful crowds of bootleggers, heiresses, thugs, and idealists, New York itself becomes a riveting character as Hoffman weaves her trademark magic, romance, and masterful storytelling to unite Coralie and Eddie in a sizzling, tender, and moving story of young love in tumultuous times. The Museum of Extraordinary Things is Alice Hoffman at her most spellbinding.


theballadofmilaThe Ballad of Mila by Matteo Strukul (Exhibit A-Feb. 25th)
Synopsis-Pray the cops find you first…

Imagine Elmore Leonard behind the wheel of a car in Grand Theft Auto as one Italian woman sets out to cut the mafia down to size – one limb at a time…

Two perfectly matched gangs are fighting for control of the north-east Italian region of Venetia. But a formidable young woman with vengeance on her mind has plans to upset the balance. Abandoned by her mother and violated by a gang of criminals just after they slaughtered her father, Mila Zago is a cold-blooded killer, a deadly assassin. Brought up by her grandfather on the Sette Comuni plateau under a rigid martial code, she returns home to seek her revenge, conspiring to create a spectacular showdown reminiscent A Fistful of Dollars.


wearehereWe Are Here by Michael Marshall (Mulholland-Feb. 25th)
Synopsis-It should’ve been the greatest day in David’s life. A trip to New York, wife by his side, to visit his new publisher. Finally it looks as though the gods of fate are going to lift him from schoolteacher to writer. But on his way back to Penn Station, a chance encounter changes all of that. David bumps into a stranger who covertly follows him, and then, just before they board the train home, passes him by close enough to whisper: “Remember me.”

The stranger follows them back to where they live, and it isn’t long before David realizes that this man wants something from him…something very personal, that he may have no choice but to surrender.


innocentsleepThe Innocent Sleep by Karen Perry (Henry Holt-Feb. 1th)
Synopsis-When a couple’s lost child resurfaces they are forced to embark on a journey into their shared past—one rife with dark secrets and lies

Tangiers. Harry is preparing his wife’s birthday dinner while she is still at work and their son, Dillon, is upstairs asleep in bed. Harry suddenly remembers that he’s left Robin’s gift at the café in town. It’s only a five minute walk away and Dillon’s so tricky to put down for the night, so Harry decides to run out on his own and fetch the present.

Disaster strikes. An earthquake hits, buildings crumble, people scream and run. Harry fights his way through the crowd to his house, only to find it razed to the ground. Dillon is presumed dead, though his body is never found.

Five years later, Harry and Robin have settled into a new kind of life after relocating to their native Dublin. Their grief will always be with them, but lately it feels as if they’re ready for a new beginning. Harry’s career as an artist is taking off and Robin has just realized that she’s pregnant.

But when Harry gets a glimpse of Dillon on the crowded streets of Dublin, the past comes rushing back at both of them. Has Dillon been alive all these years? Or was what Harry saw just a figment of his guilt-ridden imagination? With razor-sharp writing, Karen Perry’s The Innocent Sleep delivers a fast-paced, ingeniously plotted thriller brimming with deception, doubt, and betrayal.

This is a good one…keep an eye out for my Fresh Meat post on this title at Criminal Element!


stalkmeStalk Me by Richard Parker (Exhibit A-Feb. 25th)
Synopsis-Mary and her husband are involved in a terrible car crash. With her husband lying terribly injured beside her, Mary watches a set of feet emerge from behind the car they crashed into and walk over to where she is sprawled. One of the feet kicks her in the jaw and she blacks out.

When she wakes, she is still at the crash site but on a stretcher. Her husband is on a stretcher beside her and, despite his injuries, is trying to tell her something. A large crowd has gathered and a number of people are recording the event with their phones. She goes ballistic and attacks them.

When she comes round in hospital, she is informed that her husband died of his injuries. Worse still, the most traumatic event of her life has become a YouTube sensation with footage of her attack on the onlookers being viewed all over the world.

Mary learns that the man driving the car in front vanished from the scene. The car was registered under a false name. She must contact every person she attacked who recorded the event and ask for their help.

But somebody is murdering the people who used their hand held devices and is removing their recordings. Mary must try to reach them before the digital fragments of the event disappear altogether.

As Mary moves closer to the truth. she realizes the crash conceals a secret someone will do anything to conceal.


stolenonesThe Stolen Ones by Richard Montanari (Mulholland-Feb. 25th)
Synopsis-In Richard Montanari’s chilling new suspense novel, a sealed-off network of secret passages connects all of Philadelphia to the killer hidden within.

Luther Wade grew up in Cold River, a warehouse for the criminally insane. Two decades ago the hospital closed it doors forever, but Luther never left. He wanders the catacombs beneath the city, channeling the violent dreams of Eduard Kross, Europe’s most prolific serial killer of the 20th century.

A two-year-old girl is found wandering the streets of Philadelphia in the middle of the night by detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano. She does not speak, but she may hold the key to solving a string of murders committed in and around Priory Park.

As the detectives investigate, more bodies are found at Priory Park, and they’re drawn closer and closer to the doors of Luther’s devious maze and the dark secrets of Cold River.


therovingparty

The Roving Party by Rohan Wilson (Soho-Feb. 25th)
Synopsis-1829, Tasmania. John Batman, ruthless, single-minded; four convicts, the youngest still only a stripling; Gould, a downtrodden farmhand; two free black trackers; and powerful, educated Black Bill, brought up from childhood as a white man. This is the roving party and their purpose is massacre. With promises of freedom, land grants and money, each is willing to risk his life for the prize. Passing over many miles of tortured country, the roving party searches for Aborigines, taking few prisoners and killing freely, Batman never abandoning the visceral intensity of his hunt. And all the while, Black Bill pursues his personal quarry, the much-feared warrior, Manalargena. A surprisingly beautiful evocation of horror and brutality, The Roving Party is a meditation on the intricacies of human nature at its most raw.


shesleavinghomeShe’s Leaving Home by William Shaw (Mulholland-Feb. 11th)
Synopsis-London, 1968: The body of a teenage girl is found just steps away from the Beatles’ Abbey Road recording studio.

The police are called to a residential street in St John’s Wood where an unidentified young woman has been strangled. Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen believes she may be one of the many Beatles fans who regularly camp outside Abbey Road Studios. With his reputation tarnished by an inexplicable act of cowardice, this is Breen’s last chance to prove he’s up to the job.

Breen is of the generation for whom reaching adulthood meant turning into one’s parents and accepting one’s place in the world. But the world around him is changing beyond recognition. Nothing illustrates the shift more than Helen Tozer, a brazen and rambunctious young policewoman assisting him with the case. Together they navigate a world on edge, where conservative tradition gives way to frightening new freedoms–and troubling new crimes.


houseofglassHouse of Glass by Sophie Littlefield (Harlequin-Feb. 25th)
Synopsis-Jen Glass has worked hard to achieve the ideal life: a successful career, a beautiful home in an affluent suburb of Minneapolis, a seemingly perfect family. But inside the Glass house, everything is spinning out of Jen’s control. Her marriage to her husband, Ted, is on the brink of collapse; her fifteen-year-old daughter grows more distant each day; and her five-year-old son barely speaks a word. Jen is on the verge of breaking, but nothing could have prepared her for what is to come….

On an evening that was supposed to be like any other, two men force their way into the Glasses’ home, but what begins as a common robbery takes an even more terrifying turn. Held hostage in the basement for more than forty-eight hours, Jen and Ted must put aside their differences if they have any hope of survival. They will stop at nothing to keep their family safe—even if it means risking their own lives. A taut and emotional tale of a family brought together by extraordinary forces, House of Glass is a harrowing exploration of the lengths a mother will go to protect her children, and the power of tragedy to teach us what truly matters.

Comments are closed