Title: Quiet Dell
Author: Jayne Anne Phillips. She is the author of several novels, including Lark & Termite.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller
Readers: At-home parents Megan V., Sarah L. and Krysta.
Summary: In Chicago in 1931, Asta Eicher, mother of three, is lonely and despairing, pressed for money after the sudden death of her husband. She begins to receive seductive letters from a chivalrous, elegant man named Harry Powers, who promises to cherish and protect her, ultimately to marry her and to care for her and her children. Weeks later, the family are dead.
Emily Thornhill, one of the few women in the Chicago press, covers the case and becomes deeply invested in understanding what happened to this beautiful family, particularly to the youngest child, Annabel, an enchanting girl with a precocious imagination and sense of magic. Bold and intrepid, Emily allies herself with the Chicago banker who funds the investigation and who is wracked by guilt for not saving Asta. Driven by secrets of their own, the heroic characters in this magnificent tale will stop at nothing to ensure that Powers is convicted.
Our Take: This historical novel based on a true crime has strong writing but isn’t too fast-paced.
Title: Just What Kind of Mother Are You?
Author: Paula Daly. This is her first novel.
Genre: Thriller, Women’s Fiction
Readers: Author Piper, foodie Kathy, project manager Andrea and at-home parent A Military Mommy.
Summary: Lisa Kallisto—overwhelmed working mother—is the not-so-perfect model of the modern woman. She holds down a busy job running an animal shelter, she cares for three demanding children, and she worries that her marriage isn’t getting enough attention. During an impossibly hectic week, Lisa takes her eye off the ball for a moment and her world descends into a living nightmare. Not only is her best friend’s thirteen-year-old daughter missing, but it’s Lisa’s fault. To make matters worse, Lucinda is the second teenage girl to disappear within the past two weeks. The first one turned up stripped bare and abandoned on the main street after a horrible ordeal. Wracked with guilt over her mistake, and after having been publicly blamed by Lucinda’s family, Lisa sets out to right the wrong. As she begins digging under the surface, Lisa learns that everything is not quite what it first appears to be.
Our Take: A solid thriller that will leave mothers shaking in their boots. May keep you up reading for hours, great for beaches or plane rides.
Title: The Last Winter of Dani Lancing
Author: P. D. Viner. This is his first novel.
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Readers: Professor Michal, at-home parent Katie, teachers Ninian and Shannon.
Summary: Twenty years ago, college student Dani Lancing was kidnapped and brutally murdered. The killer was never found, and the case has long gone cold. Her parents, Patty and Jim, were utterly devastated, their marriage destroyed. While Jim fell apart, Patty was consumed by the unsolved case. She abandoned her journalism career and her marriage to spend every waking hour searching and plotting. She keeps contact with Tom, Dani’s childhood sweetheart, who has become a detective intent on solving murders like Dani’s. When he finds a lead that seems ironclad, he brings Patty in on it. After years of dead ends, her obsession is rekindled, and she will do anything for revenge, even become a killer herself-dragging her whole family into the nightmare once again, as lies and secrets are uncovered.
Our Take: A split decision on this tangled mystery. Most of our readers enjoyed it, though some were dissatisfied with the ending. This is a complex story that moves around in time and among characters.
Title: City of Mirrors
Author: Melodie Johnson Howe. She is the author of several previous books. This is her second book following character Diana Poole.
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Readers: Copy editor Lori, metrics analyst Mary, developmental editor Aryooki, victim advocate MJ and nonprofit manager KimJ.
Summary: Running out of money, Diana Poole is forced to go back to the only work she knows: acting. Her much-loved husband and movie-star mother have died, and now Diana is over thirty-five. In Hollywood that means she might as well be dead. Still, a few key people remember her talent, and she lands a role in a new movie. But an actress should never get her hopes up, especially when she discovers the female lead’s murdered body. Raised in her mother’s shadow, Diana knows people in “the business”will go to dangerous lengths to protect their images. When her own life and career are threatened, Diana decides to fight back and find the killer. But unmasking the surprising murderer isn’t that easy, especially when she uncovers what’s real–and unreal–in her own life.
Our Take: An enjoyable and easy read. We enjoyed the Hollywood flair with a mix of modern and old-fashioned.
Title: Delia’s Shadow
Author: Jaime Lee Moyer. This is her first novel and the first in a series.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Readers: Stay-at-home mom Kristi, policy wonk BakingSuit, metrics analyst Mary and editor Kristina.
Summary: It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side.
Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free…until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest.
Our Take: A mix of paranormal, historical and serial killer thrill-age, 3 of 4 readers give it a thumbs up. They do note it was a bit “trite” and “convenient,” though, so if you get kind of picky about these things, you may find yourself leaning more towards our dissenting reader’s opinion.