Continued on p. 28
her years earlier, as told in Salvalaggio’s debut,
Bone Dust White (2014). But the relationship
that sustained her most, with novelist Peter
Granger and his artist wife, Hannah, crumbled
when Grace learned that Peter was only after
the story of her traumatic past so he could
write about it. Feeling betrayed, Grace wrote
an incendiary letter to him, a therapeutic exercise that she never intended to send. But when
Peter and a woman die in a fire at his home,
Grace is a suspect. Montana Department of
Justice Special Investigator Macy Greeley, who
knows Grace from working on the earlier case,
is on the Granger investigation, which turns
out to involve murder and arson and is complicated by a pending divorce, a violent stalker,
and the manipulative use of female students.
This is the fourth in a solid series, with a female
crime fighter trying to balance her professional
and personal lives. —Michele Leber
Since We Fell.
By Dennis Lehane.
May 2017. 432p. Ecco, $27.99 (9780062129383);
e-book, $14.99 (9780062129406).
Lehane is one of our most versatile crime
writers: he’s done series mysteries (the Kenzie-Gennaro novels), stand-alone thrillers (Mystic
River, 2001), horror-thriller blends (Shutter
Island, 2003), and large-scale
historical novels (The Given
Day, 2008), and he’s done
them all superbly. Now he
adds psychological thrillers
to his résumé. Rachel Childs,
the protagonist in this slalom
course of a tale, is a mess.
She was once a rising televi-
sion journalist, but an on-camera meltdown
sent her career into free fall and left her a virtual shut-in, obsessed with finding her father,
who vanished from her life as a child. Everything changes when she falls in love with her
own Mr. McDreamy, Brian Delacroix, and he
slowly pulls her out of her shell. Then the slalom course takes its most jarring turn: Is Brian
hiding something? Well, yes, he’s hiding plenty.
A lot of thrillers boast twisty plots, but Lehane plies his corkscrew on more than the story
line. The mood and pace of the novel change
directions, too, jumping from thoughtful character study to full-on suspense thriller, like a
car careening down San Francisco’s Lombard
Street, cautiously at one moment, hell-bent at
another. But this narrative vehicle never veers
out of control, and when Lehane hits the afterburners in the last 50 pages, he produces one of
crime fiction’s most exciting and well-orches-trated finales—rife with dramatic tension and
buttressed by rich psychological interplay between the characters. Don’t be surprised if Since
We Fell makes readers forget about that other
psychological thriller featuring an unstable
heroine named Rachel. —Bill Ott
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The buzz
has already begun for this one and will soon
reach ear-shattering levels, aided by the
author’s 15-city tour and a full component of
bells and whistles.
By Hilary Norman.
Apr. 2017. 256p. Severn, $28.99 (9780727886736);
Norman’s latest thriller will grab readers
from the first sentence and keep them on the
edge of their seats until the very end. Liza
Plain, a journalist wannabe, and Michael
Rider, a former teacher, have three things in
common: they both grew up in the isolated
village of Shiloh, Rhode Island; they were
both deeply affected when a little girl was
murdered in Shiloh years ago; and they both
consider themselves failures. Liza has never
gotten her big break in
journalism and now writes
ads for websites, while Michael went off the rails and
wound up in prison. Now
he takes whatever low-pay-ing job comes around and
barely manages to survive.
The fourth thing the pair
will have in common is that they both decide to return to Shiloh for Christmas, Liza
to visit her grandfather, and Michael because
he has received a mysterious invitation from
someone calling themself The Reaper. What
occurs that Christmas is as tense, violent,
and terrifying as it is riveting. As both Liza
and Michael struggle to understand what
is happening to them, they find themselves
confronting a moral dilemma that has the
ability to alter their lives in unimaginable
ways. An outstanding psychological thriller
with bizarre twists and unexpected turns.
The Witchfinder’s Sister.
By Beth Underdown.
Apr. 2017. 336p. Ballantine, $28 (9780399179143).
Witch hunts didn’t start in Salem. Underdown builds upon documentation of
trials instigated in 1645 England by Matthew Hopkins, an obsessed preacher’s son
whose personal demons caused him to see
evil in every woman. The narrator and main
character is Hopkins’ sister, Alice, who recognizes that the accused, rather than causing
their neighbors’ misfortunes, are simply
mentally ill or poor. Alice needs help herself as she is recently widowed, but when
her brother takes her in, she’s helpless to
stop his madness and is forced to assist in
his ever-widening search for sorcery. Underdown’s well-researched, believable chronicle
of persecution brings its era alive and will
have readers rapt while they wait to find
out the accused women’s fates. This story
of power being allowed to grow unchecked
is perfect for our political climate. That’s
why, while The Crucible is the obvious read-alike for this book, it also connects nicely
with such dystopian classics as 1984 and
A Handmaid’s Tale. —Henrietta Verma
YA: Despite the novel’s adult cast, its
themes should still resonate with teens who
loved titles such as The Hunger Games,
The Giver, or A Handmaid’s Tale. SH.
By Lauren A. Forry.
Apr. 2017. 376p. Skyhorse, $24.99 (9781510717268).
WWII left many British children orphaned,
and Eliza and Rebecca are not alone in being sent to live with relatives who don’t want
them. But when the girls are shipped off to
live at Abigale Hall, a remote and creepy
home in Wales, their situation goes from
pitiful to horrifying. Eliza starts noticing
terrible things from day one, including the
evil housekeeper, Mrs. Pollard, who is intent
on keeping the girls isolated and under her
control. The compelling narration alternates
Eliza, desperately trying to figure out why so
many women associated with the manor have
gone missing, and her London boyfriend, Peter, risking all to track down his beloved and
bring her home. Forry lulls readers into thinking this is just a typical Gothic thriller until
the increasing panic, merging story lines, and
deadly secrets begin to precariously pile up,
ultimately crashing down in a dark and very
sinister collapse. Fans of the recent uptick in
contemporary female-driven psychological
suspense should be persuaded to try this historical setting. —Becky Spratford
YA: With a teenage protagonist and creepy
atmosphere, this should appeal to YA fans
of psychological thrillers. SH.
By Any Name.
By Cynthia Voigt.
Apr. 2017. 290p. Diversion, paper, $16.99
Voigt, a revered writer of classic teen fiction
(Homecoming, 1981; Dicey’s Song, 1982), presents her first novel for adults. By Any Name
is the story of a woman’s life told primarily
through the eyes of her youngest daughter,
Beth, with remembered interjections from
her other three daughters, Meg, Jo, and
Amy. Rida was an orphan who, by virtue
of the heightened emotion and reduced social barriers of WWII, finds herself married
to Spencer Howland, scion of a large and
wealthy New England family. Consistently
described as unconventional, Rida resists
assimilation into Boston and Cape Cod society, supporting her professor husband in
a comfortable lifestyle through strategic investment and management of his trust fund.
She fiercely advocates for her daughters,
rousting a lecherous teacher and disrupting a
debutante ball as a protective parent. A compelling woman equally admired, loved, and
resented by her girls, she allows them to grow
into themselves, strong and uncompromising
and ultimately happy. The story will appeal
to now-grown Voigt fans, as well as teens
interested in tales of large and complicated
families. —Alene Moroni
YA: Teen readers who adore Voigt
will find much to like in her latest
hardscrabble heroine. RV.