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Tony

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2006)

13thtaleDiane Setterfield masterfully weaves together a gothic tale of suspense, mystery, and loss. The novel follows the story of two women, one a reclusive author, Vida Winter, who has weaved together so many stories about her life no one knows the truth and the other a young biographer, Margaret Lea, who has been chosen by Winter to take down her true story before Winter succumbs to old age and various ailments plaguing her.

Winter’s tale unfolds mainly in flashback, recounting her eccentric upbringing and the tragedy that tore her family apart. The reader is left to figure out which character Winter is in her tale. Meanwhile, Lea is forced to look to her own past, the loss of her twin and the resulting withdrawal from day-to-day life of her mother. She tries to examine how it has shaped who she is and how she can move forward with her own life. Themes explored include identity, loss, reconciliation, death, and twins.

The Thirteenth Tale was originally released in Australia as an adult novel, but subsequently was released in the United States as a novel targeted to young adults. In 2007, it won an Alex Award, which is annually given to ten books written for adults that have a special appeal to young adults.
Joan

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz (2015)

ashleybellOddly enough, Ashley Bell is not the main character of this psychological suspense novel. She is the focal point of Bibi Blair's quest after her fatal diagnosis of brain cancer at age 22. Bibi has always been an independent, intelligent, and creative person. She began her writing career as a child. She is much loved by her parents and fiancé, who is fighting terrorism in a secret location as a Navy SEAL when Bibi is diagnosed. In Ashley Bell, the three are powerless to help Bibi in her battle as Dean Koontz weaves an intricate adventure the reader will not soon forget.
Elizabeth

A Necessary End by Holly Brown (2015)

necessaryendAdrienne is 39 and desperate to be a mother. Her husband Gabe isn’t that anxious to have a family, but goes along with the idea to please his wife. After failed IVF attempts and being scammed by a fake birth mother, Adrienne is willing to do anything to fulfill her dream. Into their lives comes 19-year-old Leah, who is pregnant and not interested in keeping her baby. Leah, however, has some stipulations, including living with Adrienne and Gabe for one year before signing the adoption papers. What could possibly go wrong? Well, just about everything.

A Necessary End is a good psychological thriller, told from two different viewpoints. Holly Brown’s novel includes some unexpected twists toward the end.
Lora

Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman (2016)

wildelakeWhen Lu Brant is elected the first female state's attorney of a county outside Baltimore, it should be the pinnacle of her career, but when she decides to try a murder case against homeless Rudy Drysdale, she's forced to confront buried memories of her own childhood. Lu's brother A.J. was involved at 18 in an incident where he broke his arm and another man died. Lu was ten at the time, enamored of popular A.J. and his group of friends. No charges were ever brought against anyone, but as Lu proceeds in her case, she finds that Drysdale was two years behind A.J. in school and that they might have known each other. Lu also reflects on being raised by her father, also a state's attorney, after her mother died while Lu was very young.

Wilde Lake is a novel that transports you to 1970s and 1980s suburban Baltimore and fully immerses the reader in a world of childhood and family secrets. Like Laura Lippman's best novels, Wilde Lake is a book that stay with you even after the last page is turned.
Elizabeth

Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay (2015)

brokenpromiseDavid Harwood is the main character in Linwood Barclay’s latest novel. He is a down-on-your-luck guy, a widower and father of a young boy. The newspaper he worked for has gone out of business, and he and his son live with his parents in Promise Falls, New York. A cousin he is close to has recently been accused of kidnapping a baby and killing his mother.

Since David has a lot of time on his hands, he sets out to prove his cousin’s innocence. In the meantime, there are several strange occurrences happening in Promise Falls, and the police are scrambling to find answers. Broken Promise is a good novel filled with suspense. The author left the ending open with several unanswered questions. Maybe there will be a Promise Falls sequel?
Jennifer

Lock In by John Scalzi (2014)

lockinRequired: a willingness to suspend disbelief and go along for the gripping ride. In this near futuristic thriller, newly minted FBI Agent Chris Shane gets thrust into a complicated case on his first day.

NPR summarizes the premise best: in this world, Haden's Syndrome is “a global, meningitis-like pandemic that, in addition to killing lots of people, also left a certain percentage of them completely paralyzed. This paralysis is called ‘lock in.’” Shane is a Haden and uses a personal transport device to navigate the world (hence the futuristic technology part).

Science fiction isn’t my go-to genre, and it may not be yours, but if you enjoy fast-paced adventures with a mystery to solve, give this one a shot. In John Scalzi’s Lock In, the world is grounded in enough reality that theoretically it could happen. And Will Wheaton does a fantastic job narrating the novel. Highly recommended.
Hugh

The Prince by Vito Bruschini (2015)

princeFive hundred years after Machiavelli wrote The Prince, Vito Bruschini appropriately named his novel the same. One might regard this later The Prince as a prequel to Puzo’s Godfather but the characters are not the same. Bruscini gives us Prince Ferdinando Licata, a respected land owner in 1920-1930s Sicily who does not hesitate to use charm and strong strategies to control the peasantry.

With the advent of Mussolini, he has conflicts with local fascists and flees to New York to escape a possible murder charge. In New York, Licata, helped by a few others from his home area of Sicily, becomes powerful and a man to be feared. When other powerful leaders seek his removal, he joins with U.S. intelligence (OSS) in planning the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943. Thus he is able to avenge some of the wrongs he received from the fascists and begin building a new basis for power in his area of Sicily. This book shows how violence, terror, and revenge was used to gain a position of power.
IPPL Staff

Is Fat Bob Dead Yet? by Stephen Dobyns (2015)

fatbobI've read other suspense novels by Stephen Dobyns, but Is Fat Bob Dead Yet? was quite a surprise. This is a comic caper novel with a good deal in common with Elmore Leonard or even a Coen Brothers movie. Connor Raposo, a young man at loose ends, finds himself involved in a shady phone scam in New London, Connecticut. A motorcycle gang, bumbling detectives, and Elvis lookalike in witness protection combine for a funny romp.
Laura

The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer (2016)

girlinredcoatA mother and daughter are separated at a crowded fair and suddenly 8-year-old Carmel vanishes.  Kate Hamer’s book alternates perspectives between Carmel and her mother, Beth. The Girl in the Red Coat captures the heart wrenching effects of such a tragedy from both Carmel and Beth's perspectives.  This book is suspenseful, deeply emotional, and very engrossing – twists and turns in the plot kept me riveted until the end.  If you have anything else to do, don't start this book as you won't be able to put it down until it is finished.
Hugh

Endangered by C. J. Box (2015)

endangeredAre men what their mothers make them? C. J. Box’s Endangered may make you think so. Here is a family living remotely, but none would want them as neighbors. Except Joe Pickett’s daughter, April, takes up with Dallas, the rodeo star son of the family, until she is found badly beaten and unconscious in a road-side ditch. Joe (local game warden) is determined to see that justice is done even if it must be western style. Joe's friend, Nate, has just been released from prison on a deal with the feds about catching a bad guy of great importance. It’s not clear why Nate was in prison, but he does say, “I never did kill anyone who didn’t need killing.” Brenda, mother of Dallas and two other sons, goes all out to make sure her son is cleared of any suspicion involving April. Brenda’s sons say “she covers all the bases.” The ending is a surprise and somewhat incredible, but Joe is satisfied that justice is done.
IPPL Staff

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard (2015)

waysworld"Max" Maxted is a WWI veteran and former POW who plans to open a flight school on the family property. When his father dies under mysterious circumstances in Paris at the peace talks, Max is determined to get to the bottom of it. Although by the end of the book many questions are answered, more have arisen to make us early anticipate book two of this trilogy. What was Max's father really raising money for? What is the secret of Max's birth? Will his pill of a brother and sister-in-law get their comeuppance?

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard is a throwback to those 1930s and early forties movies, often, but not always by Hitchcock, where an innocent man gets pulled into a web of espionage and hidden societies. Think The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, or Ministry of Fear.
Joan

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (2015)

girltrainOriginally, something in the description of The Girl on the Train struck a chord reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller Rear Window. It is definitely NOT another Rear Window, but Paula Hawkins nonetheless captured my attention from the first sentence and took me on a train ride through the heartbreak of relationships and alcoholism to the suspense and red herrings of a classic mystery. Rachel Watson is not the picture perfect girl next door she emulates, but readers will quickly find themselves in her corner against all odds.
Elizabeth

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight (2015)

wheretheyfoundherThis novel begins with a tragedy in the small affluent college town of Ridgedale, New Jersey: the body of a newborn girl is found buried in the woods near the university.

Molly Sanderson is a journalist, new to town, assigned to cover the sad story. It’s a real challenge for her, as she is suffering from a severe depression following the loss of her own baby. As Molly continues her investigation, she uncovers secrets that have been hidden for decades and comes to the realization that Ridgedale is not the idyllic place that its residents make it out to be.

Where They Found Her has good characters and some surprising twists. I hope Kimberly McCreight plans on writing more novels!
Hugh

Gray Mountain by John Grisham (2014)

graymountainThe 2008 economic downturn affected even New York lawyers like Samantha who thought she was on a fast track to partner but was abruptly put on furlough. In order to grasp a questionable volunteer opportunity, she retreats to Brady, Virginia, and becomes an intern at the Mountain Legal Aid Clinic, run by Mattie, a local lawyer. On the way, Samantha is arrested and taken to jail for speeding, but is soon released with the help of Donovan (Mattie’s nephew), a lawyer representing coal workers in large disability claims against their employers. Samantha’s adventures in rural Virginia lets her see the coarse tactics of the coal companies, the reliance on guns to solve problems, drug use by the locals, and the satisfaction that comes from helping someone really in need.

Samantha is not without capable contacts—her father was a high-income, personal injury lawyer focusing on airline crashes before he was disbarred, and now runs a consulting company advising other law firms. Her mother (divorced from her father) has a high level position in the Justice Department. Samantha finds Donovan alluring and he even offers her a position, but she sees a lot of similarities between him and her father so she must decide what type of lawyer she wants to be. After all of the trials and adventures in Gray Mountain, there are enough loose ends remaining for John Grisham to write another story about Samantha.
Mary

The Bishop’s Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison (2014)

bishopswifeMette Ivie Harrison’s first mystery combines an insider’s knowledge of a small Mormon ward in Draper, Utah, with an intriguing contemporary crime story. Linda Wallheim is the bishop’s wife and a mother of five children. She is hard working and devout, but also questions the church’s patriarchal structure and secrecy. When she suspects that a young wife fled her husband due to abuse, Linda finds she must follow her inner convictions to unravel the truth.

Check out The Bishop’s Wife today.