When We Were Sisters.
By Emilie Richards.
June 2016. 496p. MIRA, paper, $15.99
Although they’re not biological sisters, Cecilia and Robin were brought up together in
the foster-care system and remain very close.
When wife and mother Robin survives a
horrifying car accident, she decides that it is
time to return to her photojournalist career,
and she accepts an invitation from Cecilia,
now a famous singer-songwriter, to take
pictures for a documentary on foster care.
But as they revisit old foster homes and talk
about their experiences, all sorts of memories
and secrets neither had ever shared with anyone, even with each other, rise to the surface.
Each woman must face her own demons if
she is ever to become whole. Though most
of the plot is told from Cecilia’s and Robin’s
points of view, Richards also has Robin’s husband, Kris, narrate several chapters, giving
the reader an outsider’s perspective on the
women’s relationship as well as the husband’s
take on the state of his marriage. Richards
descends into some soap-box preaching
about the evils of foster care, but readers
will feel redeemed by the surprises revealed.
The Baker Street Jurors.
By Michael Robertson.
July 2016. 272p. Minotaur/Thomas Dunne, $24.99
(9781250060068); e-book, $11.99 (9781466865273).
This is the fifth installment in the entertaining saga of brothers Reggie and Nigel Heath,
London lawyers operating out of 221B Baker
Street. One of their main responsibilities is
handling the mail sent to Sherlock Holmes.
This time, as Nigel runs the shop alone, a
jury summons arrives. Nigel is chosen as an
alternate on a grisly murder case, but readers will likely find the details less interesting
than the tall, thin fellow, also an alternate,
who keeps interrupting the procedure with
bizarre questions and observations. Where
was the cleaning staff? Are there reasons to
be skeptical of one witness, who recently had
a full body wax? When the jurors begin dying mysteriously, it’s this man, who says his
name is Siger—formerly Sigerson, a Holmes
alias—who confronts the killer ahead of
the police. Robertson writes in a fluid style
edged with irony, which keeps us reading
while we cheer Nigel’s efforts to find out just
whom this Siger is. In the last pages we learn
much—but want still more. Will Siger be
back for book six? —Don Crinklaw
Behind Closed Doors.
By B. A. Paris.
Aug. 2016. 352p. St. Martin’s, $25.99 (9781250121004).
The marriage of Grace Harrington and
Jack Angel seemed perfect, except for what
went on behind closed doors. They met in a
park, when Grace took Millie, her 17-year-
old Down’s syndrome–afflicted sister, who
was like a daughter to her, for an outing.
When music from a band
inspired Millie to stand up
and dance alone, Jack got
up to take Millie’s hand
and dance with her, charm-
ing Grace in the process. So
when Jack—a movie-star-
handsome London lawyer
who had never lost a case on
behalf of battered wives—proposed marriage,
Grace accepted with delight, especially since
he pledged to bring Millie to live with them
once her institutional schooling ended the
following year. But Grace’s rapture ended on
her wedding night. On their honeymoon trip
to Thailand, Jack made clear his psychopathic
plans, using Grace’s deep love for Millie as
leverage in concocting a scheme that seemed
as foolproof as it was depraved to achieve
his desired satisfaction. Debut-novelist Paris
adroitly toggles between the recent past and
the present in building the suspense of Grace’s
increasingly unbearable situation, as time
becomes critical and her possible solutions
narrow. This is one readers won’t be able to
put down. —Michele Leber
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Published
earlier in the U.K., this has gotten rave
reviews and topped the best-seller list, with
movie rights sold. Expect similar success on
this side of the Atlantic.
The Boy in the Shadows.
By Carl-Johan Vallgren.
July 2016. 304p. Quercus, $26.99 (9781681444406);
In 1970, a seven-year-old boy from a
wealthy Swedish family is kidnapped and
never found. Then, 42 years later, Joel Kling-
berg, the younger brother of the kidnapped
boy, goes missing, and his
wife, Angela, asks translator
Danny Katz for help. Katz
has computer skills and a
facility for languages, quali-
ties that helped get him
through years as a junkie,
with the help of Rickard
Julin, who was like an older
brother to him. Katz turns to Julin for in-
formation as he recalls his own past with
his student colleague Klingberg, who once
called Katz “the only person I ever trusted.”
But then Angela is murdered, in a scene
reminiscent of an assault Katz was blamed
for decades earlier, with physical evidence
pointing to Katz as the killer. Another child
is kidnapped, as the narrative follows the
questions of who is scapegoating Katz and
why. Meanwhile vengeance is exacted for
betrayal, as the body count rises. This is the
crime-novel debut for award-winning author
Vallgren, known for his fantastic fiction, and
it successfully raises suspense and shines par-
ticularly with its cast of flawed characters.
Add Vallgren to the list of the top purveyors
of Nordic noir. —Michele Leber
By Erich Wurster.
Aug. 2016. 288p. Poisoned Pen, $26.95
(9781464205651); paper, $15.95 (9781464205675);
e-book, $9.99 (9781464205682).
Readers must be warned: don’t let the first
26 pages put you off this fine novel. Wurster
is setting up a story involving corporate jerks
and has his narrator, Bob Patterson, come
off as a primo jerk. In a short space, he belittles wife, colleagues, anybody unfortunate
enough to swim within his ken. But then
his father-in-law, who subsidized Patterson’s
plush, pointless life, dies, leaving Patterson,
for no apparent reason, in charge of his investment empire. Readers who have hung on
will be rewarded, as Wurster spins a devious
plot out of his hero’s bewilderment. Sharks
appear, and Patterson battles them, but this
is not a heartwarming story of one man’s redemption through steady employment. As he
learns what this corner of corporate America
is really up to, Patterson reveals a treacherous streak of his own. The style is witty and
knowing, as when Patterson wishes he had
a cold-blooded but loyal killer chum to rescue him, just like those pop-novel detectives.
The violent finale boils with surprises, all the
while staying mordantly funny. A rumbustious read. —Don Crinklaw
By Peter May.
Oct. 2016. 320p. Quercus, $26.99 (9781681443898);
May follows up the resounding success of
his internationally best-selling Lewis trilogy
with a stand-alone ecothriller that is also set
in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, this time
on the Isle of Harris, to the
south of Lewis. The isles
are part of the same large
island and share the same
buffeting winds and crash-
ing waves, craggy coastlines,
and lonely, sometimes per-
ilous stretches of land that
made the Lewis novels so
achingly atmospheric—you couldn’t ask for
a more perfect setting for mysteries. This lat-
est is enhanced by having three stories that
interconnect with the intricacy of illumi-
May keeps the stories clear and the pace fast, with the Hebrides’
atmosphere serving as a wild, unpredictable fourth character.
—Connie Fletcher, on Coffin Road