The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Suspense

Where the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey

When teenaged Abi Blake goes missing after a party in the woods the search for her by her best friend Emma slowly uncovers the dark secrets the people of the small town of Whistling Ridge, CO have been hiding. Where The Truth Lies is a disturbing and very atmospheric novel about a town full of abusers, racists, bigots and homophobes, a fire and brimstone preacher, and a congregation of religious zealots who use God as an excuse for all their evil or for the secrets they keep about their abusers. Beautifully written considering the bleakness and sadness that pervade the novel you will not want to put it down in the hopes that at least the young can escape and find happiness and normalcy.

Where the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey, (List Price: 27, Atria Books, 9781982157166, August 2021)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

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Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda

You can’t always believe what you see. Megan Miranda brings the reader to an idyllic neighborhood, but it’s what all the porch cameras don’t show that makes this story the heart pounding thriller it is. Ruby returns to the neighborhood that helped convict her of the murder of a neighborhood couple, and she’s there to expose Hollow’s Edge darkest secrets. When another murder occurs, it seems no one is safe.

Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda, (List Price: 26.99, Simon & Schuster, 9781982147280, July 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

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The Lost Village by Camilla Sten, Alexandra Fleming (Trans)

The Lost Village is a mystery, a survival story, and a dark homage to haunting – not just the haunting of abandoned mining village Silvertjärn, nestled deep in the forest of Sweden, but also how we find ourselves haunted by the past, our ancestors, and our own minds.

Alice, a filmmaker whose single goal is to solve the mystery of Silvertjärn, brings a documentary crew to the village to try and discover why all the residents disappeared in 1959. They quickly realize they aren’t alone and end up fighting for their lives against evil forces that still lie in wait.

The haunted house/haunted town idea isn’t new, but Camilla Sten makes it feel fresh. Strong characters with complex inner lives drive the story – the weight and context of their individual histories creates wonderfully compelling tension between them. As we learn why each crew member came to Silvertjärn, we also see the mystery unfold piece by piece as the story alternates between past and present until both converge in a horrifying face-off. I actually yelled out loud at the big reveal, which is all I want from a good horror story.

In fact, the buildup of tension was one of the best parts of the whole experience. Slowly but surely you’re pulled into the village, pulled into the mystery, pulled into the characters’ secrets and fears and nightmares until suddenly your heart races as you run with them from danger, run to escape the village, and instead find yourself face to face with the horror of Silvertjärn. I couldn’t put it down! It made me feel things. It creeped me out. I yelled in public (the highest praise I can give). Grab a copy and see if you can survive The Lost Village!

The Lost Village Camilla Sten, Alexandra Fleming (Trans.) (List Price: $26.99, Minotaur Books, 978125024925, 3/23/2021)

Reviewed by Rachel Derise, Friendly City Books in Columbus, Mississippi

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The Dark Half by Stephen King

Thad Beaumont is an author whose most popular work was written by someone else. Or was it? Nightmares of his life destroyed, mysterious headaches, a horrifying revelation from his childhood, and the appearance of someone who knows Thad better than he knows himself all lead to a choice between saving his family and the life Thad has built for himself, or giving in to his darkest impulses. An electrifying exploration of the love of (and sometimes obsession with) writing, The Dark Half held me captive. I ached and feared and rejoiced with Thad as he faced his worst fears supernaturally made manifest. I read nonstop, unwilling to break the story’s rising tension. This book absolutely wrung me out in the best way. At one point, I sat through three pages of Thad trying to accomplish a task in the midst of sheer panic and it felt so real I found myself shaking. That’s how immersive the story is, “[d]own here in Endsville, where all rail service terminates.”

The Dark Half by Stephen King (List Price: $18.00, Gallery Books, 9781501144196, 2/2016)

Reviewed by Rachel Derise, Friendly City Books in Columbus, Mississippi

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Who is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews

For those who loved Social Creature and Gone Girl: Florence Darrow, our desperately dark protagonist, has been fired from her editing job and taken on the position of an assistant to the infamously anonymous Maud Dixon. What should be a privileged position turns into something completely the opposite after a horrible work trip to Morocco. Who is Maud Dixon? will keep you guessing ’til the end and even after you’ll still be asking questions (in the absolute best way possible).

Who is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews (List Price: $28, Little, Brown and Company, 9780316500319, 3/2/2021)

Reviewed by Olivia Schaffer, The Bookshelf in Thomasville, Georgia

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The Truants by Kate Weinburg

Kate Weinberg’s debut novel of suspense weaves a tale of obsession, deception, and misguided love. Jess Walker is a young woman who enters an uninspiring university in East Anglia for the sole purpose of being a student of the charismatic professor of literature, Lorna Clay, who seems to have taken the position under a cloud of suspicion from her past. Clay will be conducting studies on the life and work of Agatha Christie, with an underlying theme, “People disappear when they most want to be seen.”

Jess not only falls under her thrall, but also that of her three new friends who introduce her to a lifestyle of excess and awakenings, with tragic and life-altering consequences.This is a moody, mesmerizing, and literary read.

The Truants by Kate Weinburg (List price: $17.00, G.P. Putnam’s Sons), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

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Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

He mounts the porch steps and hands me the mail addressed to me as I give him his glass. ‘What shall we toast to tonight?’ He looks up at the house. ‘How about to a new life for the Lawrence House?’

‘Yes, that’s perfect.’ I clink my glass against his. But I avert my gaze, tipping back my head to take a long sip, wondering if he can sense it, too. The wrongness of this place.

Goodnight Beautiful opens with the disappearance of Sam Statler, a therapist who has just moved back to his small New York town with his wife Annie to be near his ailing mother. The narrative then flashes back to earlier that summer, soon after the couple has moved to town and Sam has begun work. What follows feels like a rather straight forward domestic thriller, but nothing and no one is what they seem. Molloy has crafted a novel takes the unreliable narrator and turns the volume up to eleven. Her writing will appeal to both those familiar to the genre as well as novices. Readers may want to avoid learning too much in advance, but even when one knows the twist is coming, watching Molloy execute it is just as compelling.

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy (List Price: $27.99, Harper, 9780062881922, 10/13/2020)

Reviewed by Faith Parke-Dodge, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

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Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

A good looking couple from New York City move upstate for a slower lifestyle but things quickly takes a turn when the husband goes missing. Sam Statler is a therapist with a range of diverse clients and when he doesn’t come home, his wife Annie is desperate to find him and suspects one of his clients. As secrets and twists unravel, Molloy keeps the reader excited and engaged in this intriguing thriller.

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy (List Price: $27.99, Harper, 9780062881922, 10/13/2020)

Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

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