Set in New Mexico, this mystery with a bit of the supernatural caught my attention from the beginning. It is told from three viewpoints: Laura, a librarian whose hobby is finding missing persons through genealogical research; Jean Martinez, the NM detective trying to crack a 30-year-old cold case; and the spirits of the murdered victims. Laura is recovering from breast cancer surgery, and the physical symptoms she struggles with add an unusual element to the story. This book feels like the beginning of a series, and I am eager to read the next book.
The Night Flowers by Sara Herchenroether, (List Price: $26.95, Tin House, 9781953534866, May 2023)
Mixing identity conflict and family secrecy with blood-ties and murder, Eli Cranor delivers a literary punch with his newest novel, Ozark Dogs. Set in the Ozarks, this story follows a true crime case involving drug-smuggling Klansmen turned evangelicals and a Vietnam War vet named Jeremiah, who is committed to saving his granddaughter from a dark path, even if it means getting himself into trouble. I absolutely could not put this one down. The prose is immersive, and the depth with which Cranor writes is beautifully nuanced.
Ozark Dogs by Eli Cranor, (List Price: 26.95, Soho Crime, 9781641294539, April 2023)
I honestly can’t think of another novel that had quite the emotional impact on me that reading On The Savage Side did. Searing, brutal and unflinching in its portrayal of addiction and the devastation that it wreaks, the novel ripped my heart out and stomped all over it. In telling the story of identical twins Daffy and Arc, McDaniels gives voice to countless marginalized women, and her beautiful, lyrical prose reveals the humanity among the wreckage of lives, hopes and dreams lost to drugs.
On the Savage Side by Tiffany McDaniel, (List Price: $29, Knopf, 9780593320709, February 2023)
Reviewed by Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi
This novel will rob you of hours from your life, it will rob you of the need for food or company or sleep. Time the reading of the first pages wisely; you’ll have a sudden need to find a comfy spot where you can commune with these characters and their lush stories of pleasure and pain. A mashup of American Psycho, Scarface and The Great Gatsby but set in contemporary India, it’s all but impossible to look away from this dazzling train wreck orchestrated by Deepti Kapoor. I was consumed by this novel.
Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor (List Price: $30, Riverhead Books, 9780593328798, January 2023)
Reviewed by Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
“Studying journalism helped me realize that everyone has a story to tell, and it’s usually not the one we expect. Learning how to interview is a skill I still use, even though I don’t interview people anymore. Understanding how to get past surface-level answers taught me how to find the real meat of a story, which now influences the way I create my characters.” ―Stacy Willingham, Interview, UGA Today
What booksellers are saying about All the Dangerous Things
A mesmerizing, jaw-dropping thriller with unforeseeable twists and turns! At first, the story seems to be a mystery about finding Isabelle’s missing son Drake, who was taken from his crib in the middle of the night. However, through Willingham’s exceptional storytelling, we are taken on an unforgettable journey of lies and deception where “we are nothing but what we chose to believe.”
―Sharon Davis from Book Bound Bookstore in Blairsville, GA | Buy from Book Bound Bookstore
Chilling and mind-bending, All the Dangerous Things is a thriller read that will leave you shocked to your core. Isabella Drake’s son went missing a year ago and since then, she has been unable to truly sleep. As memories of her troubled past are dredged up and secrets are being uncovered, Izzy begins to wonder if something more sinister is amiss or if she has finally lost her mind. This novel is a psychological journey with its originality and intrigue, as the plot starts to unfurl and you begin to wonder if you can even trust your own mind.
―Makayla Summers from Main Street Reads in Summerville, SC | Buy from Main Street Reads
This book ripped me apart over and over. Stacy Willingham has a way of twisting a plot that keeps you guessing until the very end! Isabelle Drake’s toddler son goes missing from his bed in the middle of the night while she and her husband are sleeping. A whole year has gone by and Mason is still missing, Isabelle’s husband has left her, she has not slept a full night since Mason’s disappearance, there has not been a break in the case, and Isabelle’s ex has started a new relationship and seems to have moved on from her and Mason all together. Isabelle doesn’t give up, though. Even when everyone suspects her, blames her, shames her, and pities her. Everyone should read this to find out what happens to Isabelle and Mason, but also read this because Isabelle is a strong mamma jamma who deserves some respect! Thank you for this advance reader copy, I truly enjoyed this novel!
―Kait Layton from The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, AL | Buy from The Haunted Book Shop
WOW!! Jaw dropped!! This book had me HOOKED from start to finish. I finished it in one sitting. I had to know what happened next. This story follows a mom trying to piece together parts of her past as well as figure out what happened to her son, who disappeared from his room in the middle of the night. It jumps between past and present and every chapter is a new twist. I LOVED A Flicker in the Dark by this author and was worried how this would hold up and this tops it. Incredibly gripping story that had my jaw dropping by the final reveal and all the turns and twists in between. Bonus points for the Savannah, GA setting and incredible detail making you feel as if you are in the streets of downtown as you read. Highly recommend.
―Samantha Culliton from E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, GA | Buy from E. Shaver, bookseller
About Stacy Willingham
Stacy Willingham is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of A Flicker in the Dark. Before turning to fiction, she was a copywriter and brand strategist for various marketing agencies. She earned her BA in magazine journalism from the University of Georgia and MFA in writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Her work has been translated in over 30 countries. She currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with her husband, Britt, and Labradoodle, Mako, where she is always working on her next book.
If you like Scandinavian crime novels, you will love We Know You Remember. Eira has come back to her small hometown to join the local police force after a number of years in Stockholm. A new murder brings back old memories and nightmares about the rape and murder of a young girl just a few years older than Eira when it occurred 20 years earlier. A crime that the small town has never forgotten. The story of the long-ago crime is skillfully woven with the current murder and Eira’s is forced to question a lot of things that she was told that may not have been true. It is not surprising that We Know You Remember won the best Swedish Crime Novel of the year award.
We Know You Remember by Tove Alsterdal (List Price: $17.99, Harper Paperbacks, 9780063115071, December 2022)
In this novel, readers are introduced to a story where religion, region, karma, and race intersect. Nathan, (former marine and ex-cop) has experienced loss of his own, and he’s dealt his own hand of karma to others. So, when the local sheriff’s office doubles down on corruption, he takes the case of a local minister’s death into his own hands in an attempt to bring peace to the congregation. This novel is full of twists and turns that will leave your jaw on the floor. This novel dissects the weight of loss on a person’s moral compass. In this small Virginia community is where the darkest secrets are revealed–where the darkest prayers are heard. S.A. Cosby is a force to be reckoned with.
My Darkest Prayer by S. A. Cosby (List Price: $16.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250867636, December 2022)
I loved The Kingdoms of Savannah. It read like a dark, gothic Conroy novel, concerned as much with the grit of the city as the moonlight and magnolias. The Musgrove family are some rare birds. I really hope Mr. Green is planning to bring them back for more.
The Kingdoms of Savannah by George Dawes Green, (List Price: $27.99, Celadon Books, 9781250767448, July 2022)
Ahmed masterfully weaves together so many difficult topics that it’s hard to say what this book is about in any concise way. It’s painful, it’s beautiful, it’s haunting. It shines a light on horrific topics with sensitivity and grace and does so through the lens of two characters that are some of the most realistic I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Safiya didn’t really know Jawad, and she still felt the pain of his loss deeply. Upon finishing this book, I too feel his loss as if I knew him. I cannot remember ever reading a book so impactful, so relevant, and so emotionally gripping. If I had my way, everyone would read this book
Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed, (List Price: $18.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316282642, May 2022)
There are so many captivating things about this novel…the insight the reader gets as to what it takes to be a classical musician, the background on the history of violins (and one violin in particular) and how they’re made, the main character’s determination in the face of struggle, family dynamics and expectations, racial issues that rear their ugly heads, and a mysterious theft of a priceless instrument…I could go on and on. Put all this together, and you get a beautiful story about a boy who loved his grandmother more than anyone in the world…one who persevered to become a classical violinist and prove to everyone that he could do it. Brendan Slocumb effortlessly keeps his story flowing, leaving the reader rooting for Ray McMillian while trying to put the pieces of the theft together. Such a great read!
The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb, (List Price: $28.00, Anchor, 9780593315415, February 2022)
“I was twelve years old when those shadows started to form a shape, a face. Started to become less of an apparition and more concrete. More real. When I began to realize that maybe the monsters lived among us.”In the deep South, Chloe Davis is a therapist with a secret. Her father is in jail for the murder of multiple young girls who disappeared from her rural town when she was only a child. But now it is happening again and this time it seems the girls have connections to Chloe herself. But can Chloe find the truth and stop the killer, even if they are someone close to her?Stacy Willingham’s A Flicker in the Dark is a solid debut thriller, full of the thick humidity of Southern summers spent running through the woods. Readers will race to the end to find who is at fault and may discover that no one can be trusted.
A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham, (List Price: $27.99, Minotaur Books, 9781250803825, January 2022)
Reviewed by Faith Parke-Dodge, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina
Where do you get your ideas? Where do ideas come from?
When Patti Callahan was asked to describe her new novel Once Upon a Wardrobe in a sentence she answered "Where did Narnia come from?"
"Where do get your ideas" is, as she readily admits, the most common question any writer has ever received about the book they have written.
"it’s an unanswerable question," Callahan admits, "It’s mysterious. A little bit numinous. A little bit out of my control. We come up with answers…but you can’t ever fully say."
It was, nevertheless, a question that came up for Callahan herself when she was researching her novel on C.S, Lewis’s wife, Becoming Mrs. Lewis. She saw clues, "breadcrumbs" of things in Lewis’s life that hinted at what would become Narna. "Where did Narnia come from?" became a question she was always asking at the back of her mind. Rather than come up with a list of reasons, "I thought," she said, "it would be more interesting to answer that question as a story."
What booksellers are saying about Once Upon a Wardrobe
I have eagerly been awaiting for this story as I am a fan of all things C.S. Lewis related! Callahan does not disappoint. She has chosen a unique perspective on the life of Lewis by weaving the yearnings of a small boy, George, who desperately wanted to know where Narnia came from into a deep connection that he comes to have with Lewis through his sister, Megs. Wonderfully charming and insightful! ― Stephanie Crowe from Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL Buy from Page & Palette
“The way stories change us can’t be explained. It can only be felt like love.” Parti Callahan in Once Upon a Wardrobe has written a story that has so many quotes that I wanted to keep forever with me. This book is a treasure that you can keep in your life forever. ― Nancy Pierce from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA Buy from Bookmiser
This unfolding tale of how C.S. Lewis penned one of his best known works is spellbinding. I cannot remember the last time a book made me cry, but Patty Callahan created Megs and George who reached in and melted my heart. ― Jackie Willey from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC Buy from Fiction Addiction
Patti is a wonder, and her enduring relationship with the life and loves of CS Lewis delves deep into the heart of what it means to be a passionate reader. This is a novel about a practical young woman bound to find the story behind the story of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to fulfill her dying brother’s last wish. What a beautiful book! ― Ashley Warlick from M Judson, Booksellers in Greenville, SC
Buy from M. Judson
About Patti Callahan
Patti Callahan is the New York Times, USA TODAY, and Globe and Mail bestselling novelist of fifteen novels, including Becoming Mrs. Lewis and Surviving Savannah, out now, and Once Upon a Wardrobe, out October 19, 2021. A recipient of the Harper Lee Distinguished Writer of the Year, the Christy Book of the Year, and the Alabama Library Association Book of the Year, Patti is the cofounder and cohost of the popular web series and podcast Friends & Fiction. Follow her at www.patticallahanhenry.com.
There are many reasons a crime writer with a successful series might leave their main character behind and launch themselves into something new. The Swedish author Helene Tursten had a long series of successful books behind her featuring her well-liked, married-with-two-kids detective Irene Huss when she decided to write about a completely different character, the absolutely not-married-and-no-plans-to-be Embla Nyström. “After 10 books about Irene, I strongly felt that I had to recharge my batteries,” she said in an interview.
Readers may well wonder what else Tursten might have been trying to work out when she came up with her other literary character, Maud.
Maude is not a detective, not a young woman, and certainly not interested in “justice.” Although she’s not shy about dealing out just desserts. An octogenarian who makes full use of people’s tendency to underestimate little old ladies, Maud is rather like a slightly evil Miss Marple. The result is both oddly charming and oddly unsettling. Even sort of scary. An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed is Tursten’s second book of Maud stories. It includes everything you might expect from one of Sweden’s best noir writers: Dead bodies. Ruthless criminals. Desperate victims. Cookie recipes.
What booksellers are saying about An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed
You definitely wouldn’t want to meet the heroine of An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed in a dark alley late at night. Maud may be pushing ninety, but she is a force and has spent her life exacting her own brand of justice that may or may not have resulted in more than a few murders. Translated from Swedish, this was charming.. ― Rachel Watkins from Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA Buy from Avid Bookshop
I met my favorite octogenarian killer in An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed! This cozy and elegant murder mystery makes the perfect gift for the mystery-loving people in your life (fits perfectly in a stocking!). ― Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC Buy from Main Street Books
Hilarious and darkly sinister, this book is satisfying and entertaining. Maud is not someone you want to cross seeing as those who do don’t survive. ― Jamie Southern from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC Buy from Bookmarks
Maud is back and better than ever in this second tale of murder and revenge! This collection of stories takes us back to her youth and how she became who she is – and what happened to those left in her wake! Picking up where we left off in her previous collection, Maud is trying to evade the authorities that won’t leave her alone. This pocket-sized book is perfect for the mystery lovers in your life! ― Andrea Richardson from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA Buy from Fountain Bookstore
About Helene Tursten
Helene Tursten was a nurse and a dentist before she turned to writing. She is the author of the Irene Huss series, including Detective Inspector Huss, Night Rounds, Who Watcheth, and Protected by the Shadows; the Embla Nyström series; and the short story collection An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good, which also features Maud. Her books have been translated into 25 languages and made into a television series. She was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, where she now lives with her husband.
What a great cinematic story, starting with a double murder in Honolulu just before Thanksgiving 1941 which eventually took the investigating Detective to Hong Kong where he arrived on December 8th, December 7th in Hawaii, before ending Five Decembers later. Utterly enthralling.
Five Decembers by James Kestrel, (List Price: 22.99, Hard Case Crime, 9781789096118, October 2021)