Before The Fall by Noah Hawley

Book Description:

Published: May 31, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the tragedy and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the crash heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy: Was it merely dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations–all while the reader draws closer and closer to uncovering the truth.

Review –

Before The Fall  starts off with a private plane being prepared to transport a TV executive, his wife and their two children; a couple who are friends of theirs; an artist the wife has befriended; the crew of the plane, and a private bodyguard employed by the TV executive. They are all flying from Martha’s Vineyard to New York. It is a summer night and other than some mild fog, conditions for flying are good. Yet sixteen minutes after takeoff the plane plunges into the sea.

The rest of the book concerns how and why the plane crashed. Various theories are possible and Hawley takes us back into the past to see how and why these suppositions could be right. He holds the reveal of what actually happened to the very end of the book. But until those final moments it is anybody’s guess.

Going back and forth to the past and relating detailed back stories on each character bogged things down but I still gave the book FIVE STARS because even through the bog I couldn’t help myself and kept on listening.

There are numerous theories as to what or who caused the plane to crash. For awhile, Scott, was himself a suspect. It is not until the end that we find out who is behind the crash and it was so very plausible that I am very glad that I haven’t flown in years and now I don’t ever plan to do so!

Five Stars *****

 

 

 

Lost Light (Harry Bosch #9) by Michael Connelly

Book Description:

Published: March 1, 2004

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The vision has haunted him for four years–a young woman lying crumpled in death, her hand outstretched in silent supplication. Harry Bosch was taken off the Angella Benton murder case when the production assistant’s death was linked with the violent theft of two million dollars from a movie set. Both files were never closed. Now retired from the L.A.P.D., Bosch is determined to find justice for Angella. Without a badge to open doors and strike fear into the guilty, he’s on his own. And even in the face of an opponent more powerful and ruthless than any he’s ever encountered, Bosch is not backing down.

Review –

I’ve read or listened to most of the Harry Bosch series but every once in a while I will come across one that’s I’ve missed. This was one and when I found it available on OverDrive I checked it out.

Writing in the first person for the first time, Connelly finally gets us inside Bosch’s head and it really gives us an insight to how his mind works. Great job on the author’s part.

Recalling the opening of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, Bosch shows up at a rich movie executive’s home in his best suit. He has gone to ask about a woman who was murdered when Bosch was still on the police force. You see, when Bosch retired, he took his unsolved case files with him, and some of the untouched cases still haunt him.

The woman Bosch is asking about was killed at the movie exec’s studio and the case was eventually overlooked, when an armored truck delivering two million dollars as a movie prop was hijacked. But Bosch never forgets, and after asking around, he gets warnings from some of his old co-workers, namely Kiz Rider, who asks him to stay out of the case.

As Bosch begins to sift through the murder, the FBI, a paraplegic ex-cop, productions studios, his former wife, and Hollywood clubs become involved. When one of the marked dollar bills from the robbery turns up with a suspected terrorist, Bosch becomes entangled with the newly created Homeland Security division of the FBI. This is where Connelly begins to shine. He ratchets up the suspense as Bosch becomes more and more involved with the Feds, who are trying to keep him off the case. But in true private investigator tradition, Bosch only becomes more stubbornly determined to solve the case.

Particularly enjoyable are those scenes when we follow Harry as he tries to interview suspects and find clues, and the difficulty he has making the transition from an insider to an outsider. The interactions with characters, the paraplegic especially, have a very dark and moody feel.

The ending of the story is a surprise and a tear-jerker (at least for me), but works with Connelly’s theme of balancing the light and darkness of his mission, and the last third of the book is absolutely riveting.

I’m going to re-check my list to see if I have missed any other Harry Bosch gems and find them if I can.

 

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

Book Description:

Published: July 26, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favorite daughter will walk out of the woods. Emily’s two older sisters stay, too, each keeping her own private, decades-long vigil for the lost child.

Sixty years later Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person to whom it might matter: her grandniece, Justine.

For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the stable home she never had. But it’s not the sanctuary she hoped for. The long Minnesota winter has begun. The house is cold and dilapidated, the frozen lake is silent and forbidding, and her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more than he’s telling about the summer of 1935.

Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives with designs on her inheritance, and the man she left behind launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house steeped in the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.

Review –

The foundation of the story rests with the disappearance in 1935 of Emily, a six-year-old child, and the resulting destruction of a family unit when the child is not found. As the story opens, it is the end of the 20th century and Lucy, the last living member of the family, writes the story of the tragedy, set during the summer of 1935 at a remote area in northern Minnesota that is the gathering spot for summer and weekend vacations. Its residents arrive at the beginning of summer and leave with the onset of autumn. They are all known to one another, and their relationships ebb and flow. 

Knowing that she is dying, Lucy feels compelled to explain the mystery of Emily’s disappearance as it unfolded that summer. She has made arrangements to leave the home and property that she and her older sister, Lilith, have lived in until the last of their family has died out, to a grandniece, Justine, who is Lilith’s granddaughter. Her journal story is written in the first person and immerses us into that long-ago summer.

With each alternating chapter, we follow Justine as she migrates from San Diego to Williamsburg, Minnesota, with her two daughters. The move is fraught with anguish as Justine leaves her live-in boyfriend, packs the few belongings she and the girls have, and sets out to learn about her inheritance. Her story is told in the third person.

Young is skilled at creating tension and conflict both in the journal (Lucy) chapters and in the Justine chapters.

 Her characters are vivid and come to life as the story unfolds.

Justine’s mother, Maurie, is a hippy-style mother who disappears and then reappears every few years when her life falls apart and she needs financial support. When she learns that Justine has inherited the family summer home, she comes sniffing around searching for anything she can sell for profit. She is a woman older than she believes herself to be and her boisterous and flirtatious ways create pain and embarrassment for Justine.

Patrick, Justine’s boyfriend, is a manipulative man, set on controlling Justine’s life and that of her daughters. She left him with no indication where she was going, but she knew he would find her and come for her . . . and he does.

The characters in Lucy’s journal are equally complex in their relationships with one another. The two older daughters just emerging into their teens, Lilith and Lucy, are inseparable, while the younger child, Emily, is held close and pampered by their mother.

The parents are estranged: the father, a pharmacist in town, comes to the summer home on weekends with his religious bellowing; the mother expresses an overpowering attachment to Emily and a distance from her husband.  

Matthew and Abe Miller are the sons of the man who owns the lodge in the vacation area where tourists come and reside for short periods of time. The boys are mixed race, part white, part Indian, and while the lodge is accepted as a gathering point for the summer residents, the fathers watch the boys with a careful eye. These two characters travel back and forth between the journal, as young men, and Justine’s story as old men.

In Lucy’s journal, Young expresses the angst of young boys and girls as they are entering adulthood and the dances they do around one another with varying degrees of results. She is equally good at reflecting the anger of Justine’s two young daughters who have been ripped away from the small amount of stability they had in San Diego, as they are relocated to a cold, northern, unforgiving environment in Minnesota.

Both stories travel a parallel path of pain with the summer of 1935 heading toward a tragic end and the winter of the end of the 20th century heading on a collision course of battered relationships.

Young drops hints throughout Lucy’s chapters as to what really happened to Emily that summer and in two thrilling scenes packed with tension at the end, she pitches several situations only hinted at earlier, but activities that nonetheless prove vital to the final result. She cleverly draws these parallel stories together as Justine resolves issues and takes her place as the strong protagonist she is meant to be.

Five stars!  Fantastic read.

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

Book Description:

Published: July 26, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favorite daughter will walk out of the woods. Emily’s two older sisters stay, too, each keeping her own private, decades-long vigil for the lost child.

Sixty years later Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person to whom it might matter: her grandniece, Justine.

For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the stable home she never had. But it’s not the sanctuary she hoped for. The long Minnesota winter has begun. The house is cold and dilapidated, the frozen lake is silent and forbidding, and her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more than he’s telling about the summer of 1935.

Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives with designs on her inheritance, and the man she left behind launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house steeped in the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.

Review –

Justine is living in a shabby apartment with her two daughters and live in boyfriend,Patrick, who is VERY controlling so when an attorney calls saying that her great-aunt Lucy has left her a house and a stock portfolio of $150,000.00, she packs the basics, picks up the girls from school, and starts the long drive to Minnesota.

In her mind the summer-house on the lake looks the way it did when she was nine years old. It was the only Summer she was there and the only time she met Lucy. When they arrive, it is Winter in Minnesota and the house is drab, falling apart and in desperate need of a full restoration.  The inside is not much better with the rooms heated by radiators fueled by a propane tank only one-third full and a stove in the kitchen so old the oven can not be fixed. Meals have to be made on top of the stove or in the microwave.  Justine’s only comfort is that maybe Patrick won’t be able to find them since she told no one where she was going and she left her cell phone behind.

The only neighbors are brothers who were childhood friends of her grandmother, Lilith and great-aunt Lucy, who now run the Lodge for the Summer people. Abe is a bit slow so doesn’t venture out much so Matthew is the one  the Evans girls sees most and they all consider him “creepy”.

There is a box of composition books full of stories written by Lucy, all dealing with the little sister, Emily, who went missing in the summer of 1935. There is also another composition book with the truth behind Emily’s disappearance, but Justine doesn’t know about it until almost the end of the book.

I won’t tell you what happened to Emily or if Patrick shows up, or about the fire  so you’ll have to read the book to find out. There is so much more to this story than just a missing child!

It is a fantastic book and I couldn’t stop listening,

Five stars *****

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Book Description:

Published: November 1, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.

 

Review –

This wasn’t as good as I thought it would be and I really did not like the character of Shelby. Granted, she went through a horrendous ordeal, but get a grip, girl and move on!

I knew she was just stringing Ben along and when she dumped him for the vet, I knew she would regret it. The vet was just too good to be true. I did like James from the very beginning and think he and Shelby match and cried when I read that he hadn’t given her the tattoo she wanted, but instead, a black butterfly, which had a very special meaning.

The ending was perfect. They pack up and head to California with no hint from the author of an hea. Now, that is real life!

 

 

 

Among the Wicked (Kate Burkholder #8) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: July 12,2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called upon by the sheriff’s department in rural, upstate New York to assist on a developing situation that involves a reclusive Amish settlement and the death of a young girl. Unable to penetrate the wall of silence between the Amish and “English” communities, the sheriff asks Kate to travel to New York, pose as an Amish woman, and infiltrate the community.

Kate’s long time love interest, State Agent John Tomasetti, is dead set against her taking on such an unorthodox assignment, knowing she’ll have limited communication – and even less in the way of backup. But Kate can’t turn her back, especially when the rumor mill boils with disturbing accounts of children in danger. She travels to New York where she’s briefed and assumes her new identity as a lone widow seeking a new life.

Kate infiltrates the community and goes deep under cover. In the coming days, she unearths a world built on secrets, a series of shocking crimes, and herself, alone… trapped in a fight for her life.

Review –

This is another new author for me and although this book was number eight in the series; it works well as a stand-alone.

Since I haven’t read or listened to any of the earlier books I’m not sure what tragic event happened in Kate’s life while she was a young Amish girl, but I can guess. Her past has caused her to become the strong woman she is and few books feature strong women a main characters.

The plot was weak in places and dragged a bit here and there but on the whole I enjoyed it and plan to find others in the series.

Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman

Book Description:

Published: May 3, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Luisa “Lu” Brant is the newly elected—and first female—state’s attorney of Howard County, Maryland, a job in which her widower father famously served. Fiercely intelligent and ambitious, she sees an opportunity to make her name by trying a mentally disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death in her home. It’s not the kind of case that makes headlines, but peaceful Howard county doesn’t see many homicides.

As Lu prepares for the trial, the case dredges up painful memories, reminding her small but tight-knit family of the night when her brother, AJ, saved his best friend at the cost of another man’s life. Only eighteen, AJ was cleared by a grand jury. Now, Lu wonders if the events of 1980 happened as she remembers them. What details might have been withheld from her when she was a child?

The more she learns about the case, the more questions arise. What does it mean to be a man or woman of one’s times? Why do we ask our heroes of the past to conform to the present’s standards? Is that fair? Is it right? Propelled into the past, she discovers that the legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, does not have all the answers. Lu realizes that even if she could learn the whole truth, she probably wouldn’t want to.

Review –

“What begins as a tale of lost innocence in the summer of 1980 becomes, woven with alternating chapters set in the present, an unsettling study of the moral compromises people make to keep their lies hidden. As the events of her childhood insinuate themselves into her current life, Lu begins to question essential truths about her beginnings: Who is her father beneath his comforting words and mysterious behavior? Who was her mother before she died in childbirth? What really happened with her brother on that fateful graduation day? (Free to attend Yale, AJ got rich with the Lehman Brothers, left to take up with a yoga instructor, and now is an “Eat, Pray, Love”-type guru and MacArthur fellow.)

Lu, who moved into her father’s house with her two daughters following her husband’s death, is no angel herself. She regularly meets with one of AJ’s old friends for bruising motel room sex. As assertive and irreverent as she is (“Have you ever noticed only another competitive person will ever call you competitive?”), she didn’t get to become state’s attorney without making political — and personal — compromises.

Ultimately, “Wilde Lake” is not so much a crime novel that rises to the level of serious literature as serious literature that rises to the level of great crime fiction. ” taken from the Chicago Tribune.

This book was so much more than I had expected and I recommend it to anyone that likes a heart-breaking mystery.

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