Heller’s background as an adventure writer shows in this thriller in which the landscape is a main character. A simple story of that canoe trip would have been enjoyable but when Heller ratcheted the action up with two college kids trying to rescue a badly injured woman while navigating a wild river, a fast-moving wildfire and the woman’s attacker on their heels, I held on for the wild ride and I’m glad I did.
The Bird King is set at the end of Muslim rule in Granada with a magical mapmaker, a concubine with the heart of a queen, an evil Spanish nun and a terrifying, charismatic Jinn. This tale of transformation reads like a fairy tale with a morality plays’ take on how power is defined and used for destruction or as a redemptive flame for freedom. Each beautifully written character strives for righteousness and to be their truest self.
Vargas may be the best mystery writer you’ve never heard of. Her Commissaire Adamsberg is stationed in the 15th Arr. of Paris but is often in far flung areas of France. His means of detection are non-traditional; His staffare delightful misfits with a talent for finding murderers. Vargas is equally non-traditional, as seen in this tale which features a series of murders caused by the bite of brown recluse spiders.
An isolated house in Scotland that is part top of the line Smart Home and part Gothic mansion features strongly in this creepy mystery. A nanny with something to hide starts work in a mansion where nothing can be hidden. Why do the nannies keep leaving? What’s behind the locked door? Can technology keep us safe? Ware keeps us on the edge of our seat as she spins this Gothic yarn with a contemporary twist.
After a nearly fatal accident, Virgil is no longer himself. He still lives on the shore of Lake Superior and operates the movie theater but there is a disconnect from the man that he was. Enger invites us to this downtrodden town and brings its citizens to life with soaring and evocative language that reminds us we have the capacity to surprise even ourselves.
Connolly is a very rare thing, a literary genre writer. His writing and characters are as compelling as the mystery of what happened to the woman found buried in the woods. The Woman in the Woods is a stellar supernatural story that follows a network of people designed to help women fleeing danger. Who is the ancient being that is stalking them and the book of fairy tales she left behind?
Ware continues to hone her craft as she introduces us to Hal, a tarot card reader on the Brighton pier. Hal receives a letter that leads her into what she believes will be a harmless fraud against the upper class but quickly builds into a mystery that goes to the core of who Hal really is and why her mother seems to have lied about nearly everything. Reminiscent of the country-house mysteries of the golden age.