Hello, readers, and hello, April. There are some fantastic books on the near horizon by the writers you love: Adrian McKinty, Elizabeth Hand, Don Winslow, Sara Paretsky..I could go on but since you are here waiting patiently let’s talk about April. It’s not quite as spectacular as March, and May is an embarrassment of choices, but there is plenty here to like. Let’s look at these books, then, as palate cleanser, a literary amuse bouche to keep you reading until the summer begins.
The Secrets We Share, Edwin Hill
Hill’s Hester Thurby series is a delight, but I always like to see a good writer trying new things. Hill’s first standalone is a story of sisters: Natalie Cavanaugh, a Boston cop, and Glenn Abbott, a rising food blogger who has constructed a brand (and a book) around her blog . So, let’s concede these two don’t have much in common. What binds them together is the horror of finding their father’s body in the woods behind their house 20 years earlier. His mistress was accused of the murder. Yet someone seems to know about that trauma—someone who is active on Glenn’s blog, or the person Natalie swears is following her. Hill handles his characters and plot with relish and a dash of humor to keep things moving.
Insomnia, Sarah Pinborough
I have a love-not love thing with Sarah Pinborough. She either grabs me and keeps me or makes me want to throw books with that one ludicrous and infuriating twist across the room (she’s not the only author guilty of this particular misdemeanor, but hers are doozies). I’m happy to report I did not want to turn Insomnia into a projectile. It’s a delightfully creepy story of Emma Averell, a woman convinced she is going mad as she approaches her fortieth birthday, which is when her mother manifested symptoms of a breakdown. Oh, and the insomnia part doesn’t help. Pinborough nails it with this one: take it from me, a veteran insomniac.
Ellery Lloyd, The Club
Here is another book about poor rich people. The Club is a member of the Home Group, a club with branches all over the world and an exclusive clientele—think Paris, London, the Hamptons, Lisbon, Malibu, etc. There is no branch in Des Moines or Pittsburgh. The most spectacular of them all is Island Home, a complex of cabins, bars, spa, etc. in a beautiful, secluded compound on the English coast. There is a three-day party planned to open this shiny new destination, and plenty of bitter staff made more caustic by the beautiful people they have to serve. It’s not Downton Abbey with a body count, but there is a fun upstairs/downstairs quality to The Club.
Cover Story, Susan Rigetti
Cover Story benefits from the interest in Anna Delvy, the con woman who ran game on some of the richest and most self-important people in New York City (clarification: if you are a rich person in New York City you probably have a high opinion of yourself so please excuse the tautology). What sets this novel apart is Rigetti’s interest in the ways of the confidence scammer: it’s not only about a particular con artist but an examination into why people fall for scams, how the con earns the confidence of a mark, and why as long as there are rich, gullible people, there will be poor, clever people who gain entry into the lives of the rich in order to steal their money and their dignity.
Janelle Brown, I’ll Be You
And we finish with another book about sisters: Brown’s I’ll Be You is a study in the mixed emotions of sibling bonds. Since the siblings are sisters, it also delves into the territory of what we will and won’t do for family. Brown is also a twisty writer—she and Pinborough should have the same fan base. Brown puts her sisters, who you know are messed up because they are former child stars and twins, into clever situations that reveal how frayed their bond is. One disappears, and the other is forced to confront the secrets they kept from the world and from each other.