18 Booklist May 1, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
sions, it’s hot and humid, insular and small.
It’s also the bearer of painful secrets, namely
the dark emotional reverberations of Arden,
who grew up there in peace until the summer
day 20 years ago when her young twin sisters
were abducted. The case was never solved.
Now light on the mystery is shed anew when
Arden inherits Arrowood and returns to her
quiet hometown. She’s not afraid to learn
the darkest of truths, and is determined to
discover what really happened that summer.
McHugh, whose debut novel, The Weight of
Blood (2014), was winner of an International
Thriller Writers award for best first novel, is a
graceful writer, handling heavy themes with
subtlety and skill. Some readers may find the
novelist’s immersion in melancholy a bit too
morose, while others may relish this novel as
an eloquently eerie tale that uses mood to its
advantage. —Allison Block
Arsenic with Austen.
By Katherine Bolger Hyde.
July 2016. 320p. Minotaur/Thomas Dunne, $24.99
(9781250065476); e-book (9781466872424).
Murders are solved handily, and first love is
reignited in this contemporary cozy with a literary bent. Widowed literature professor Emily
Cavanaugh suddenly becomes a very wealthy
woman when her Aunt Beatrice dies, leaving a
large estate. But Beatrice’s death—of acute gastroenteritis, after dining with a local real-estate
dealer and the town mayor—puzzles Emily.
Beatrice’s longtime housekeeper, who thinks
her employer was poisoned, dies in a suspicious accident. Emily finds herself at the heart
of a controversy about development that would
change the nature of the sleepy seaside town
of Stony Beach, Oregon, where she now owns
considerable property. She also finds herself in
a quandary over town sheriff Luke Richards,
who was her teenage lover 35 years earlier in
a relationship that ended precipitously and
has nagged her ever since. Jane Austen is ever
present here, in snippets from her novels at the
start of chapters and in Emily’s comparison of
Stony Beach residents to Austen characters.
Meanwhile, Emily is threatened and considers who would gain most from murders past
and potential. An engaging start to a series by
debut-novelist Hyde. —Michele Leber
By Ward Larsen.
May 2016. 400p. Forge, $25.99 (9780765385772);
Larsen has two active series currently
running, and both are terrific. This latest installment featuring former assassin David Slaton is
his best yet. Slaton has gone
off the grid, isolating himself
from everyone he cares about
to the point that several
governments and even his
wife believe he is dead. One
day an assault team shows
up while he is doing stonework, and he barely escapes.
How was he found? Who wants him dead? Is
his family safe? He must reestablish his skills
and utilize a long-buried network of allies and
enemies if he’s to stay alive and find answers.
Larsen’s other series character, Jammer Davis,
an investigator for the National Transportation
Safety Board, shows up when a plane mysteriously disappears. The mix of the two characters
is a Larsen fan’s dream and makes for a wonderful introduction to a too-little-known author.
Slaton is the perfect assassin, and this is the perfect action-adventure thriller. —Jeff Ayers
Aunt Dimity & the Buried Treasure.
By Nancy Atherton.
May 2016. 230p. Viking, $26 (9781101981290); e-book,
The Aunt Dimity series continues to de-
light, even without a dead body. When Lori
Shepherd finds a gold and garnet bracelet in
her attic, her ghost-companion Aunt Dimity,
with whom Lori communicates through Dim-
ity’s journal, tells her about a postwar romance
involving the bracelet. At Dimity’s request,
Lori seeks out veterans in her British village
who may remember a man who called himself
Badger, in hopes of giving him a message Dim-
ity was never able to convey. In the meantime,
life in the village takes an exciting turn when a
new couple move in and introduce the locals
to metal detecting. Soon any manner of objects
are discovered under the soil, allowing villagers
to right old wrongs. Lori’s journey takes her to
an anthropologist who tells her about a secret
literally in her own backyard. The use of histor-
ical detail here, especially the fascinating stories
behind found objects, showcase Atherton’s
ability to keep this unique and long-running
series fresh and enjoyable. A natural for fans of
M. C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin. —Amy Alessio
By Hollie Overton.
July 2016. 288p. Redhook, $25 (9780316268714).
Kidnapped by Rick as a teenager, Lily has
endured eight years of serving as his dream
wife in a soundproofed basement prison. Her
daughter, Sky, was born into their “family” five
years ago, and it’s for her safety that Lily defies
her torturous “training” and takes advantage of
Rick’s first mistake. She flees with Sky and is
shocked to find that her prison was just a couple of miles away from her family’s home. She’s
dreamed of reuniting with her parents and her
twin sister, Abby, but when she finally reaches
her childhood home, she learns it’s harder than
she imagined to reclaim her life. And Rick, far
from breaking when Lily’s accusation shatters
his good-guy image, is determined to punish
her for her betrayal, and she knows she can’t
trust any prison to keep him for long. Debut
novelist Overton’s television-writing skills are
evident here; scenes from Lily’s captivity and
her post-escape hospital stay are layered with realistic imagery. A tense survivor story for fans of
Chevy Stevens’ Still Missing (2010) and Chelsea
Cain’s One Kick (2014). —Christine Tran
By Max Allan Collins.
May 2016. 352p. Forge, $26.99 (9780765378286);
Chicago private eye Nate Heller has
investigated most of the last century’s headline-grabbing crimes and, thanks to Collins’ impeccable research, has always come up with
believable explanations of what really happened. So it’s no surprise that Heller was in
the mix in the 1950s when the Rosenbergs
were executed for being Soviet spies. But we all
know that Julius was guilty, and Ethel was a
sort-of accomplice, so what’s left for Nate to
uncover? Plenty. It starts with a superb premise that has Nate playing both ends against the
middle, helping Joe McCarthy hunt for Reds
in the CIA and, at the same time, working
for Dashiell Hammett and a group of literary lefties trying to uncover new evidence that
will exonerate the Rosenbergs. His investigation, though, leads him to another, equally
juicy scandal—at least for today’s reader—
Continued from p. 16
May is Mystery Month at Booklist—since
2010, we’ve complemented the offerings
in the Mystery Showcase with an
amazing array of online-exclusive con-
tent. What do we have planned this year?
For starters, Blue Balliett, Rachel Howzell
Hall, and Catriona McPherson will be tak-
ing over our popular Publishing U series
with hard-won advice for aspiring and
We’ll also have a Booklist Reader Guide
to Ruth Rendell, an interview with Brian
Freeman, and an essay from author Carrie
Mesrobian, in which she explains how her
love of Donna Leon’s fiction compelled
her to visit Venice in person. You’ll find
plenty of our trademark lists, too, starting
with Bill Ott’s “Sons and Daughters of Lisbeth Salander.” All that and much more!
It’s all happening on the Booklist Reader
( booklistreader.com)—and we’ll be sharing everything on Twitter with the hashtag
#mysterymonth. (Don’t forget that you
can sign up for daily updates via email at
Want to make a Mystery Month display
in your library? A great place to start is by
printing our list of “The Year’s Best Crime
Novels,” or one of our top 10s, from
the digital edition ( booklistonline.com/
issues). Be sure to let us know about your
mystery-themed displays and programming
by tweeting photos or
sharing them on our
Facebook page. We
love hearing from you!