This installment: mayhem among the Amish (f); the dreadful thrall of an abusive relationship (nf); scuba and blackmail in Florida (f); Ide’s latest (f); and a deep British psychological novel (f).
Editor’s Note: Much of our print collection is now available for holds again. The titles and links below will direct you to print when available, with special notes made of digital ebook and eAudiobook availability.
Shamed by Linda Castillo
Kate is police chief in a small town in Amish country. She grew up Amish, broke away, and is uniquely suited to her job because she can access that very private culture. A grandmother is butchered, a 7 year old girl is abducted, and other fatalities occur, though they appear to be “accidents.” Kate keeps uncovering backstories, but it’s like pulling teeth despite her facility with the language.. Of particular interest: a deed spawned from a desire to help can have disastrous consequences. Turns out shame and its aftermath can leave mayhem in its wake. Thoughtful and atmospheric—a police procedural with an added dimension.
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
In this astonishing memoir, Machado takes us through her time with a lover who abused her terribly. Characterized as the Dream House, she was beautiful, charming, seductive, volatile, and could change on a dime. In one or two page chapters we get to know the gamut: highs and lows, childhood stories, descriptions of actual domiciles—these impressions create a mosaic that depicts the dreadful thrall of such a relationship. One fascinating aspect: footnotes that cite folktale motifs in many of the vignettes. Very original, sometimes painful to read, but exquisitely done and worth it.
Also available as an e-audiobook on Hoopla.
Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson
I think of this writer’s offerings as warm, funny, Southern, often with a sports angle. But here she produces a psychological thriller and it’s scary indeed. Amy has a nice life in Florida but a big secret. Roux comes to town, a provocative bombshell, and starts stirring things up. Turns out she needs money and has a handle on Amy’s troubled past with blackmail in mind. Also a toothsome 14 year old son, Luca, who connects with Amy’s beloved teenage stepdaughter in disturbing ways. Amy’s a dive instructor and this adds metaphorical as well as action-packed dimension to the tangled tale. Another wrinkle: Amy recognizes uneasy kinship with Roux but this gives her the chops to beat her at her own game. At times a little over the top but I finished it in one gulp.
Hi Five (an I Q novel) by Joe Ide
Isaiah serves as unofficial PI in his downtrodden East LA neighborhood. Sometimes the cases are simple—he has good connections and considerable clout—but this time it’s very scary and much too close to home. Angus, a horrid crime boss, has a very problematic daughter with multiple personalities. She’s accused of a murder and if Isaiah can’t get her off the hook, people very close to him are at great peril. It becomes a shell game of robbing from one gang to deceive another, and the risks are crazy. This is the 4th in a series and it helps to start with the first book (I Q) but if you know the territory as I do, leap on this new offering. Ide, who’s of Japanese-American descent, has a great ear for ebonics, and he also makes some obscure references I could look up on my device—one good aspect of e-readers.
The Child by Fiona Barton
Kate the reporter is following up a very cold case: a baby found buried in a construction site. She’s dogged, intuitive, and very intelligent so she uncovers layer after layer that the police haven’t yet discovered. Barton presents the main characters as they narrate alternating chapters, and each develops slowly like a photograph, revealing more depth but sometimes tweaking our perceptions before we ultimately learn more of their stories. Lots of psychological anguish. There’s finally closure, but it’s not a rosy picture. Plenty to ruminate over.
See you next week.
Editing and formatting: Ana