Daughters of Foxcote Manor by Eve Chase


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From Netgalley & the Publisher:

An isolated forest estate.
A family with a terrible secret.
The discovery that changes everything.

England, 1970. On the one-year anniversary of the Harrington family’s darkest night, their beautiful London home goes up in flames. Mrs. Harrington, the two children, and live-in nanny Rita relocate to Foxcote Manor, ostensibly to recuperate. But the creeping forest, where lost things have a way of coming back, is not as restful as it seems. When thirteen-year-old Hera discovers a baby girl abandoned just beyond their garden gate, this tiniest, most wondrous of secrets brings a much-needed sunlit peace, until a visitor detonates the family’s tenuous happiness. All too soon a body lies dead in the woods.

Forty years later, London-based Sylvie is an expert at looking the other way. It’s how she stayed married to her unfaithful husband for more than twenty years. But she’s turned over a new leaf, having left him for a fresh start. She buried her own origin story decades ago, never imagining her teenage daughter would have a shocking reason to dig the past up–and to ask Sylvie to finally face the secrets that lead her back to Foxcote Manor.

Readers of Lisa Jewell and Simone St. James will delight in this haunting, touching story of mothers, daughters, and belonging–and the devastating lies families tell themselves in order to survive.

Eve Chase has given us this summer’s Family Upstairs with this twisted, tangled tale of love, loss, infidelity, betrayal, and the power of family.

The story moves between present time and a fateful summer of 1971. At the center of the story is Big Rita – nanny to a troubled family in 1971 and mother to the present-day protagonist. Rita’s story is unfolded gradually – the heartbreak and horror of that 1971 summer juxtaposed against the family disruption in in the present-day and Rita’s own health.

The full complexity of the connection is not revealed until later chapters, and Chase does a remarkable job of weaving in little hints of what’s to come here and there throughout the narrative. She strings you along so that you simply can’t put this book down. Several chapters end with a mini-cliffhanger, and I found myself skipping ahead to find out what happened, then going back and reading through.

As she did in Black Rabbit Hall, Chase has constructed a complex story that is rife with unbridled emotion held in check until it isn’t. She writes relationships with a deft hand and develops her characters in ways that evoke a visceral response. Recommended.

Publication Date: July 21, 2020
Published By: Penguin Group Putnam
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Cold Kill by Rennie Airth


cover181403-mediumAn American actress arrives in London to find herself the target of a ruthless assassin in this compelling standalone thriller.

Actress Adelaide Banks is swapping her native New York for London to spend Christmas with her widowed Aunt Rose. Rose wrote in her note that she was off to Paris for a few days and would be back in time for Addy’s arrival. But when Addy reaches Rose’s Knightsbridge address, no one’s home, and she has two unexpected callers . . .

Where is Rose, and what has she got herself entangled in? Dragged into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse on the snowy streets of London, Addy finds herself navigating a dark underworld of ruthless assassins, rogue agents and international crime. Can she survive long enough to uncover the truth?

I’ve been a fan of Rennie Airth’s John Madden series since River of Darkness debuted in 1999, so was curious to read this new stand-alone novel. I found a feisty female lead and a clever plot made even more captivating by the cast of memorable characters and a surprising ending. What a treat!

Airth steps away from Madden’s post-WWI world and ventures into international intrigue with a modern story that is every bit as good as his earlier work. I often envision stories on the screen, and could easily see John Madden in a BBC mystery series on television. Cold Kill, however, is a full-on, big screen spy thriller on par with the Bond and Mission: Impossible franchises. Will appeal to fans of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Published By: Severn House
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

 

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey


cover178794-mediumA debut novel for fans of Sarah Perry and Kate Morton: when a young woman is tasked with safeguarding a natural history collection as it is spirited out of London during World War II, she discovers her new manor home is a place of secrets and terror instead of protection.

In August 1939, thirty-year-old Hetty Cartwright arrives at Lockwood Manor to oversee a natural history museum collection, whose contents have been taken out of London for safekeeping. She is unprepared for the scale of protecting her charges from party guests, wild animals, the elements, the tyrannical Major Lockwood and Luftwaffe bombs. Most of all, she is unprepared for the beautiful and haunted Lucy Lockwood.

For Lucy, who has spent much of her life cloistered at Lockwood suffering from bad nerves, the arrival of the museum brings with it new freedoms. But it also resurfaces memories of her late mother, and nightmares in which Lucy roams Lockwood hunting for something she has lost.

When the animals appear to move of their own accord, and exhibits go missing, they begin to wonder what exactly it is that they might need protection from. And as the disasters mount up, it is not only Hetty’s future employment that is in danger, but her own sanity too. There’s something, or someone, in the house. Someone stalking her through its darkened corridors . . .

I seem to be reading a lot of gothic mysteries lately…the genre is definitely making a comeback!

Here we have all the elements needed for a first-class, spooky gothic thriller – intrepid heroine who is made of sterner stuff than is believed by those around her; a creepy country house; a tragic inhabitant; a prickly, horrible mystery; and a horrifying climax followed by a new beginning.

There is, however, a refreshing difference here. In the old 1970s gothics, the tragic inhabitant of the creepy country house was invariably a man. Here, it’s Lucy. The beautiful, delicate, sleep-deprived daughter of the master of the house. The story spun around Lucy and Hetty is delicate and charming, a piece of lace on the grimy, icky cloth of the horrible mystery, and one that gets ripped off, preserved, and sewn into something beautiful.

The story is captivating and creepy, the writing skillful and eloquent. Well done.

Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Published By: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen

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cover173378-mediumIn this sophisticated, suspenseful debut reminiscent of Laura Lippman and Chloe Benjamin, two young women become unlikely friends during one fateful summer in Atlantic City as mysterious disappearances hit dangerously close to home.

Summer has come to Atlantic City but the boardwalk is empty of tourists, the casino lights have dimmed, and two Jane Does are laid out in the marshland behind the Sunset Motel, just west of town. Only one person even knows they’re there.

Meanwhile, Clara, a young boardwalk psychic, struggles to attract clients for the tarot readings that pay her rent. When she begins to experience very real and disturbing visions, she suspects they could be related to the recent cases of women gone missing in town. When Clara meets Lily, an ex-Soho art gallery girl who is working at a desolate casino spa and reeling from a personal tragedy, she thinks Lily may be able to help her. But Lily has her own demons to face. If they can put the pieces together in time, they may save another lost girl—so long as their efforts don’t attract perilous attention first. Can they break the ill-fated cycle, or will they join the other victims?

Evocative, eerie, and compelling, Please See Us is a fast-paced psychological thriller that explores the intersection of womanhood, power, and violence.

This book is one of the best debuts in the suspense genre that I’ve read in a very long time. Full of well-drawn characters and a clever, twisted plot that will keep you reading and shivering into the wee hours, this is a must-read for fans of psychological suspense.

Mullen carefully builds the relationship between boardwalk clairvoyant Clara/Ava and art gallery girl Lily in such a way that you find yourself rooting for both of them as they plunge into the dark side of Atlantic City and into the even darker recesses of a killer’s mind. At the same time, she also gives character to the girls who want to be seen – not just the victims in the marsh but all the lost girls who drift around the city, looking for…something.

Relationships are key here – the failed relationships that have shaped Lily and Ava, the tragic relationships between the girls in the marsh and their families, and the friendships that move the action forward. Mullen weaves those relationships into a taut, suspenseful story that will keep your eyes glued to the pages.

Fans of Laura Lippman and Kathy Reichs will enjoy this one.

Publication Date: March 1, 2020
Published By: Gallery/Pocket Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Old Bones by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles


cover169220-mediumDCI Bill Slider’s out of favor in the force—for accusing a senior Met officer of covering up an underage sex ring. As punishment, he’s given a cold case to keep him busy: some old bones to rake through, found buried in a back garden, from a murder that happened two decades ago, and with most of the principal players already dead.

“You can’t upset anyone looking into old bones.”

Surely Bill Slider can’t unearth anything new or shocking with these tired old bones?

As an avid reader of mystery and suspense novels, it’s rare for me to be completely surprised by a twist at the end. Let me just say, the twist at the end of this book is superb! Unexpected, Did-Not-See-That-Coming ending.

This is a very British police procedural, full of slang and language relatively unfamiliar to this American reader, but I thoroughly enjoyed learning new vernacular speech because it was paired with engaging characters and a clever, twisty plot. In addition to all that, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles writes extremely well, equally skilled at description, dialog, and plot. Overall, this is one of the better British police procedural books I’ve read in a good long time. Recommended.

Advance Praise

‘For detection fans demanding quality and heart as well as ingenious plots. – Daily Mail

‘Harrod-Eagles writes terrific crime novels, meshing fully realized characters with multilevel plot lines. – Library Journal

‘A truly outstanding series. – Booklist

‘Harrod-Eagles is never less than expert in presenting suspects. – Kirkus Reviews

Publication Date: August 16, 2019
Published By: Black Thorn
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister


cover154444-medium Emmeline lives an enchanted childhood on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world through her senses. What he won’t explain are the mysterious scents stored in the drawers that line the walls of their cabin, or the origin of the machine that creates them. As Emmeline grows, however, so too does her curiosity, until one day the unforeseen happens, and Emmeline is vaulted out into the real world–a place of love, betrayal, ambition, and revenge. To understand her past, Emmeline must unlock the clues to her identity, a quest that challenges the limits of her heart and imagination.

Lyrical and immersive, The Scent Keeper explores the provocative beauty of scent, the way it can reveal hidden truths, lead us to the person we seek, and even help us find our way back home.

Erica Bauermeister, the national bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients, presents a moving and evocative coming-of-age novel about childhood stories, families lost and found, and how a fragrance conjures memories capable of shaping the course of our lives.

This book is a gift that I did not expect. The story is by far one of the most unusual and imaginative I’ve read in a long time, and the characters by turns fascinating and exasperating. I first became interested in the properties of scent, particularly of how scent can trigger memories, when working with an elderly woman. Scent was a trigger for her and she shared the loveliest memories of her childhood and early adult years living on a farm and serving in the WAVES in World War II.

Emmeline’s experience with scent and the scent-machine is fascinating, and I particularly appreciated how scent continued to play a role in her life even after she left the island. I was pleased that she found a new family, and even more pleased that she eventually reconnected with her mother. However, the first meeting between Victoria and Emmeline was a little hard to swallow. Victoria’s acceptance of Emmeline as her daughter was a little too quick from someone being portrayed as hard-as-nails. Even so, their relationship building was interesting, and I totally loved the end, bringing both of them full circle back to John. Fans of M.J. Rose will enjoy this. Recommended.

Publication Date: May 21, 2019
Published By: St. Martin’s Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

The Midnight Call by Jode Millman


midnight callFrom the Publisher: Everyone dreads the terrifying call that comes in the middle of the night. Your worst fears could be realized, your life changed forever in the minute it takes to answer. Jessie Martin never expected to hear the word murder on the other end of the line. That ringing phone was the sound of an ill-fated trajectory that would tilt her world, throwing her life into free-fall in Jodé Susan Millman’s heart-pounding courtroom thriller, THE MIDNIGHT CALL (Immortal Works; June 18, 2019).

The call is from distraught family friend Terrence Butterfield, threatening to harm himself. Jessie races to his side, but what she learns at Terrence’s house shakes her to her core. There’s a boy’s body in the basement—and Terrence insists he was the murderer. Drawing upon her connections as a corporate attorney, Jessie calls in a favor. She asks her former boss, criminal lawyer Jeremy Kaplan, to take the case. When Jessie and Jeremy speak to Terrence, she can’t believe he’s the same dear friend she’s known and loved since high school. The handsome, charismatic, and popular teacher swears he doesn’t know how the teenage boy ended up butchered in his basement. But he delivers this statement with an insidious flash of a malicious grin. Equally worrisome is the prosecution. Assistant District Attorney Hal Samuels is surprised to see his old law school flame listed as a witness. He hasn’t seen Jessie in years—how will this affect building his case? The tension mounts as Terrence tries to manipulate her, Kaplan uses her as a pawn, her fiancé pressures her for more, and the man who dumped her insinuates himself back into her life. How will she survive the aftermath of answering that terrifying midnight call?

Millman hits the bull’s eye in this, her debut novel. The plot is tight as a drum and filled with suspense from the first chapter to the last. Everything works here – the characters, the dialog, the description, the story – which demonstrates the author’s excellent research skills and imagination. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop.  Police and legal procedural fans, this is a new author to watch!

jodeJODÉ SUSAN MILLMAN is the author of the bestselling Seats: New York Theatre guidebooks. Her debut novel, The Midnight Call, was short-listed for the Clue Award and was designated as “Best Police Procedural” by Chantireviews.com. She is an attorney who blogs about publishing law and is the co-host and co-producer of the popular podcast Backstage with the Bardavon (available on iTunes, Spotify and GooglePlay). Visit her at http://www.jodesusanmillman.com or on Facebook @JodeSusanMillmanAuthor.

 

Praise for The Midnight Call
“Witty, smart, and entertaining. An intriguing mix of hopes and fears, where the line between right and wrong blurs into some juicy, legal skullduggery.”
– International and New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry, author of The Malta Exchange

 

The Mind’s Eye by Perry Prete

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Nicole Baker is a quiet girl – the type of person who is seldom noticed by anyone. That is until one day she discovers she has the unique ability to see images move on photographs. At first, she uses her ability to entertain friends at parties and work. Then senior detective Paul Hammond learns of her ability and enlists her help in a case of unsolved murders that he has not been able to make any headway on.

​Carl Kadner, a rookie reporter with the local paper is investigating the murders as well. And he learns what it takes to be the kind of reporter he wants to be when he puts himself in danger for the sake of the story. It is only when Carl, Nicole and Detective Hammond pool their resources that things start making sense.

Perry Prete draws on 30 years of experience as a paramedic to deliver a story that reads like a crossover episode of Criminal Minds and Charmed. The story opens with a punch-to-the-gut abduction, which sets the tone for the rest of the fast-paced action. The characters are introduced, the plot set, and the action set in motion at a rapid pace. At first, I was a little put off by the super-masculine direction of the story (the description of Hammond waking up was a little over the top), but Prete has done a very good job of blending the testosterone-laden world of the homicide cop with the touchy-feely-fuzzy world of the girl who sees photos move. Once Nicole is introduced, the story takes on a really interesting, yin-yang direction as detection meets telepathy.

Prete skillfully writes both description and dialog, which is often unusual in these types of books where the author is usually skilled in one but not both. He’s got an unusual storyline here which, while pretty gruesome in parts, holds your interest. He develops Nicole’s gift powerfully, and by the end I was flashing back to Stephen King’s Firestarter. It would be interesting to see these characters become part of a series, book or television.    Recommended for fans who don’t mind in-your-face description of gruesome crime and appreciate good writing.

Book Details:
Book Title: The Mind’s Eye by Perry Prete
Category: Adult Fiction; 243 pages
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Sands Press
Release date: March 7, 2018
Tour dates: Sept 3 to 21, 2018
Content Rating: R (Violence towards women based on real life events, language, graphic violence)

To read reviews please visit Perry Prete’s page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

 

 

Meet the Author:

Perry Prete is a Canadian crime writer and paramedic. His first novel, All Good Things, introduced us to Ethan Tennant, a City of Ottawa paramedic who looks at crimes from the medical perspective.

Perry continues to work full-time as a paramedic and uses his thirty plus years of life changing and sometimes dramatic experiences to bring realism to his gripping medical novels. His other works include, The Things That Matter Most and All Good Things.

He is also a business owner, specializing in the pre-hospital care field. His company sells medical equipment across North America, primarily to EMS agencies.

A native of Sudbury, Ontario, Perry, graduated from Fanshawe College in London but now lives and works in Brockville, Ontario.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

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Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield


E115714F-DA04-4765-B6FD-6B4265B78092There are few authors who can take a common archetype like water and use it to deliver a fresh, wholly original tale that ensnares the reader from start to finish. Diane Setterfield does that in Once Upon a River. She uses the River to create the spine upon which she builds multiple stories that eventually meet to join the main narrative, just as tributaries meet the river.

Setterfield’s debut, The Thirteenth Tale, was as brilliant a novel as I’ve ever read and has become one that I re-read occasionally and recommend constantly. Her sophomore effort, Bellman & Black, didn’t appeal to me in the same way, but this one…oh, this one…is a story that I will remember for a long time. The characters are engaging and cleverly written, and the stories are joyful and heartbreaking…at the same time. I especially admire how sensitively Setterfield writes about differences. Jonathan, son of the innkeepers and born with Down Syndrome, is portrayed as a valuable and much-loved member of the family and contributor to the community. Armstrong, the bastard son of an Earl and a Black servant, is portrayed as a powerful, just, and loving man in the English countryside of long ago. And finally there is my favorite character Rita, the village “wise woman” who is really just a woman with common sense who loves to read and learn and who is trusted and loved by the villagers.

These are just three of the characters who people the pages of Once Upon a River, but there are more who will undoubtedly appeal to other readers. Part of Setterfield’s appeal for me is her attention to detail and character-building. Every single character could step out of this book and be a real person.

The multiple stories built throughout this book could stand alone, but here, Setterfield ties them all to the story of a small, mute girl rescued from the river. Who is she and where did she come from? That’s the question that drives all the action forward and leaves you guessing to the very end.

Looked at in a larger context, Once Upon a River is a story about stories and the importance (and danger) of telling tales. Setterfield masterfully shows how stories spread and grow into new things, just as small streams eventually become big rivers. Highly recommended.

Publication Date: December 4, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy

April Micro-Reviews


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The Unforgotten by Laura Powell – What a ride! This is a book that forces you to pay attention, which really isn’t a problem because you will want to keep turning those pages. The story begins with Betty Broadbent, a young girl who suddenly finds her quiet life in a small Cornish village turned upside down by a series of grisly murders. The local hotel run by Betty’s mother becomes de facto headquarters for the journalists who descend on the town, and that’s where Betty meets Gallagher. The two fall into an unlikely and unpredictable relationship/friendship as the search for the “Cornish Cleaver” goes on. While I expected a tightly written mystery, I got that plus a really well-crafted story about obsession, madness, and guilt. I found the characters charming at first, then a little irritating, then a little scary and suspicious. The author does a good job of blending past and present, and skillfully demonstrates how the past never really leaves you. I’m not often surprised by endings, but this one had me gobsmacked. Really, really good.

Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Published By: Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

islandIsland of the Mad by Laurie King – I’ve been a fan of Laurie King’s Mary Russell series for years, but the last couple felt a little played out. This one, unfortunately, continued that trend. Here, Mary is contacted by an old, dear friend whose beloved Aunt Vivian has disappeared. Vivian, who has been a resident of an asylum for years, was visiting family when she disappeared along with some jewels and other items from her brother’s safe. Russell is called upon to find the Lady Vivian and recover both the lady and the jewels. This involves an undercover stay in Bedlam (the asylum where Vivian lived for years), fascism in Britain and Italy, and Cole Porter. While the story was entertaining enough, it didn’t spark like previous books. The younger Russell would have twigged on the reason for Lady Vivian’s “madness” long before this Mary Russell figured it out. I found myself shaking my head at her thickness by chapter 4. I think it’s time to move on.

Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Published By: Random House Group/Ballantine/Bantam
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

darkangelDark Angel by Elly Griffiths – I’ve loved Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway series from the first, and was eagerly anticipating this next entry in the series. “Was” is the keyword in that last sentence. Griffiths has gone from writing top-notch mysteries focusing primarily on Ruth’s role as a forensic anthropologist to writing sappy relationship novels that focus on Ruth as the “other woman” in a love triangle, successfully reducing her to a cliché. Why do writers do that? Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series suffered from the same issue, but Winspear is finally bringing Maisie back around to detecting. Griffiths needs to do the same. Ruth Galloway is so much more than Nelson and Kate. Bring her back! Please!

Publication Date: May 13, 2018
Published By: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

168987AA-65EE-4C22-828E-3AD4FE97BFE7The Fairies of Sadieville by Alex Bledsoe – Another highly anticipated series entry from Alex Bledsoe that more than lived up to the anticipation. Begun with the Hum & the Shiver and concluded here, Bledsoe’s Tufa series is one of the most creative and well-written modern fairy tales out there. Bledsoe beautifully wraps up the story arc of an exiled tribe of Tuatha de Danaan living in Tennessee, providing closure to a number of stories included in the earlier books. We finally learn the one story that Bledsoe has never told – the origin story of the Tufa – and it’s fascinating, especially the little nugget of info from the King of Fairyland regarding the bet that landed the Tufa in Tennessee.  While I am sad that this is the last in the series, I am very much looking forward to the tales Bledsoe will spin next. I highly recommend the entire series.

Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Published By: MacMillan/Tor-Forge
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

westawayDeath of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware – Ruth Ware has done it again. The Death of Mrs. Westaway is an un-put-downable tale of family turmoil, long-buried secrets, and deception that will keep you up at night, reading just one more chapter…until you’ve devoured the whole thing in one sitting. Harriet “Hal” Westaway is a young woman making her living as a tarot reader on the Brighton Pier. She’s all alone in the world, having lost her mother in an unexpected accident when she was 18. Not only is she alone, but she’s also in debt. So when she receives a letter from an attorney informing her that she is a beneficiary in the will of  her grandmother Hester Westaway, she packs up her few belongings and heads to Cornwall, even though she believes the letter was sent in error. Her arrival sets in motion a chain of events begun decades earlier and brought to a grim conclusion here. Ware gives us an appealing protagonist, shifty characters, a questionable will, and the de rigeur treacherous housekeeper all wrapped up in a brooding Cornish mansion right out of Agatha Christie. One of the best I’ve read this year. Highly recommended.

Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Published By: Simon & Schuster/Gallery/Scout Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy