Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Perfect Girl

An engrossing novel by Gilly Macmillan, I tore through this in a day. We meet Zoe Maisey just before the teen begins a concert in tandem with her stepbrother, Lucas Kennedy. Soon after the concert starts, however, a man makes a scene, Zoe and her mother Maria leave the concert venue upset, Lucas carries on alone. The perfect Second Chance Family seems to be crumbling... and before morning, Maria is dead. The novel is tightly written, encompassing action over just two days. It's told from multiple points of view; Zoe, her aunt Tessa, Tessa's husband Richard, Lucas, and Sam, Zoe's former lawyer who is Tessa's current lover. There is ambiguous morality throughout the book - it's not just a piece of fluff, but really makes one think. Recommended.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Broken Harbor

Dublin Murder Squad series number four from Tana French. Mike "Scorcher" Kennedy is a true blue cop of twenty years. He is given the biggest case of the year; in a half built, half abandoned development the Spain family has been attacked. Husband Pat, daughter Emma, and son Jack are dead while wife Jenny is in intensive care. Kennedy and his rookie partner, Rich Curran, think at the beginning this will be an easy case to solve. Yet so many things don't add up - all the baby monitors, the holes in the walls, the trap in the attic... Plus, the location is Brianstown, now. It used to be known as Broken Harbor, a summer caravan park for the less affluent to vacation by the sea. Kennedy's family used to vacation there every year when he was young until a tragedy occurred.  Knowing he has a case there unsettles his already unstable sister Dina, and doesn't do a whole lot for Kennedy himself.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Into The Water

A novel by Paula Hawkins. Jules Abbott returns to Beckford, her family's summer house, her sister's current house, because police have come to her door. They told her that her sister had died in the drowning pool, a place Nel was obsessed with, and Jules would have to take guardianship of her niece Lena. Earlier in the year, Lena's best friend had died in the same place. The drowning pool seems to be a good place for the community to rid itself of troublesome women. It has a long history of women dying there, and Nel was writing a book about it. Not everyone was happy about that, including Patrick Townsend who used to be the local police chief until his son took over. Patrick's wife Lauren had committed suicide by throwing herself into the drowning pool, with her son Sean looking on, according to local legend. The police don't know if Nel's death is suicide, accident, or murder. As this gets worked out Lena comes to terms with being both friendless and motherless and Jules learns to let others into her life. I didn't care much for this book. It's told from too many points of view, and I saw the plot twist way too early.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

All the Missing Girls

This is Megan Miranda's first novel for adults, and it is stunning. Nicolette Farrell left Cooley Ridge shortly after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared. Ten years later she's back to help care for her Dad, putting her life in Philadelphia on hold. The job. The fiancee. All the people from that long ago time are still there. Nic's brother is expecting a baby with his wife. Corinne's ex-boyfriend works in the local bar. And Nic's former boyfriend is dating Annaliese Carter, who goes missing the day after Nic arrives.
The book tells the story backward, from day 15 to day 1, which is a little confusing but also adds to the suspense. Nic tries to unravel Annaliese's disappearance and see what it has to do with Corinne's, opening old wounds, making new ones and discovering if you can go home again.

The Devil's Advocate

Written by Morris West, this book was one chosen by my book group. It was excellent. Monsignor Blaise Meredith has just been handed a death sentence by his doctor; he has stomach cancer. He has also been given a final assignment by his Cardinal boss - find reasons to confirm or deny the sanctity of one Giacomo Nerone, whose cause for sainthood has been put forward. Meredith goes, doubting. Not only Nerone, but also himself. He meets some highly flawed people and finds a compassion he had not experienced before. The characters are all well drawn. Growth occurs. The ending... while not entirely satisfactory is understandable, logical, and I found myself thinking it the only way the book could have ended. The author has a firm grasp of Catholic theology and explains it simply and thoroughly. A book to revisit. Can't say that about many novels.