I love encountering new publishers and every few months I stumble into a favorite one! When I noticed that every Mystery/Thriller that I’ve read so far by Crooked Lane Books had been as entertaining as I’d expected (Love, Heather being the perfect example), I knew it was a sign I should try out more reads from this publisher, which – as I’ve been noticing lately – continues to publish suspense novels that tend to have a dash of horror (which I friggin’ love!), and lately it’s ventured into actual, Netflix-like horror. How awesome does that sound? In fact, let’s start with an example of this particular genre first…
It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan
Having been able to get an advanced reading copy of this one, I’m happy to say that fans of The Haunting Of Hill House will devour It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan (August 11th) . A faceless boy (who’s apparently a bad omen), a woman with Xs on her eyes, a massive ancestral home with an evil past…yeah, it’s definitely terrifying.
Sam Wakefield lives in her ancestral home, a decaying mansion built on the edge of a swamp. One night, her pregnant sister Elizabeth moves in after a fight with her abusive husband, something in the house shifts, followed by the appearance of a mysterious faceless boy (the revelation of his identity early on in the book is one heck of a twist!) who commits disturbing acts.
As Elizabeth’s due date approaches, Sam must unravel the horrifying mysteries of Wakefield before her sister brings new life into a house marked by death.
The Monsters We Make by Kali White
The Monsters We Make (June 9th) is one I’m really excited about. It’s a seemingly-atmospheric family drama set in the 1980’s and it follows the disappearances of two paperboys from a small midwestern town.
It’s August 1984, and paperboy Christopher Stewart has gone missing.
Hours later, twelve-year-old Sammy Cox hurries home from his own paper route, red-faced and out of breath, hiding a terrible secret.
Crystal, Sammy’s seventeen-year-old sister, is worried by the disappearance but she also sees opportunity: the Stewart case has echoes of an earlier unsolved disappearance of another boy, one town over. Crystal senses the makings of an award winning essay, one that could win her a scholarship – and a ticket out of their small Iowa town.
Officer Dale Goodkind can’t believe his bad luck: another town and another paperboy kidnapping. But this time he vows that it won’t go unsolved. As the abductions set in motion an unpredictable chain of violent, devastating events touching each life in unexpected ways, Dale is forced to face his own demons.
Told through interwoven perspectives–and based on the real-life Des Moines Register paperboy kidnappings in the early 1980’s–The Monsters We Make deftly explores the effects of one crime exposing another and the secrets people keep hidden from friends, families, and sometimes, even themselves.
The Girls Weekend by Jody Gehrman
How incredibly appealing is that cover? That’s not all though. This book is said to be right up the alley of admirers of Ruth Ware and Lucy Foley…
The Girls Weekend (June 9th) is a locked-room mystery revolving around the reunion of five college friends after years apart, followed by their host’s disappearance, which will unearth so many dark secrets and old grudges.
Their reunion just became a crime scene . . .
June Moody, a thirty-something English professor, just wants to get away from her recent breakup and reunite with girlfriends over summer break. Her old friend and longtime nemesis, Sadie MacTavish, a mega-successful author, invites June and her college friends to a baby shower at her sprawling estate in the San Juan Islands. June is less than thrilled to spend time with Sadie–and her husband, June’s former crush–but agrees to go.
The party gets off to a shaky start when old grudges resurface, but when they wake the next morning, they find something worse: Sadie is missing, the house is in shambles, and bloodstains mar the staircase. None of them has any memory of the night before; they wonder if they were drugged. Everyone’s a suspect. Since June had a secret rendezvous with Sadie’s husband, she has plenty of reason to suspect herself. Apparently, so do the cops.
A Celtic knot of suspense and surprise, this brooding, atmospheric novel will keep you guessing as each twist reveals a new possibility. It will remind you of friendships hidden in the depths of your own past, and make you wonder how well you really know the people you’ve loved the longest.
Hurry Home by Roz Nay
In Hurry Home (July 7th), it seems like the past will be coming back to bite two estranged sisters with a deep, dark secret.
Alexandra Van Ness has the perfect life. She lives in an idyllic resort town tucked away in the Rocky Mountains, shares a designer loft with her handsome boyfriend, Chase, and has her dream job working in child protection. Every day, Alex goes above and beyond to save children at risk.
But when her long-lost sister, Ruth, unexpectedly shows up at her door, Alex’s perfect life is upended. Growing up, Ruth was always the troublemaker, pulling Alex into her messes, and this time will be no different. Still, Alex will help Ruth under one condition: we will never, ever, talk about the past. But when trouble befalls a local child, both women are forced to confront the secrets they’ve promised to keep buried.
Utterly engrossing and claustrophobic, Hurry Home is a tantalizing reflection of the chain-and-shackles relationship between sisters that asks: what lines wouldn’t you cross for your own?
The Secrets They Left Behind by Lissa Marie Redmond
Upon coming across the title “The Secrets They Left Behind” (April 7th) , this book immediately felt like the perfect Fall read to me – a title I thought suited the the cover perfectly. The premise also sounds extremely original – a 23-year-old female undercover officer with a dark past (escaping a serial killer…) investigating three college freshman girls who vanished in a small town one night without a trace? How chilling does that sound!
The Secrets They Left Behind is the perfect read to cozy up with under the covers, with a cup of your preferred hot beverage, in this chilly weather. The “undercover” part, to be honest, was one of the things that I mostly enjoyed about the protagonist/police officer’s mission. It was refreshing that the author herself has complete knowledge about the “police procedural” field, considering she, herself, was a homicide detective in Buffalo – just like our main character.
The culprit, however, I did not guess at all. Thankfully, my theories were wrong; I love being wrong about the perpetrator. I think this is a solid mystery that would appeal to fans of police-procedural mysteries, and I think the female police officer who stars in this story is one you will definitely want to meet!
Before Familiar Woods by Ian Pisarcik
Another attractive cover from Crooked Lane! Are you a fan of Christopher J. Yates? Then this one might be right up your alley. Before Familiar Woods (March 10th) explores the fraught nature of families and the inescapable secrets that are out to cripple them.
On the outskirts of a town too tired for its own happenings, the boys were found dead inside a tent.
Three years later, their fathers have disappeared, too.
Ruth Fenn’s son was the boy they blamed. For three years, Ruth has accepted her lot as pariah, focusing on her ailing mother and the children left in her care by the struggling single parents of North Falls, Vermont. But now the additional loss of her husband is too much to bear, and she has no choice but to overcome the darkness or be consumed by it. But as she edges closer to the truth, she begins to uncover some secrets that are better left buried.
That’s when she meets Milk Raymond, a war vet who comes home to find his nine-year-old son abandoned by his mother. Unable to find work, with no idea how to be a father, Milk turns to Ruth for help. But as the mystery of Ruth’s missing husband deepens, the fragile stability Milk has created for Daniel is shattered by the ill-fated return of Daniel’s mother, who will stop at nothing to get her boy back.
As these unsettled and interconnected lives hurtle towards a devastating conclusion, both Ruth and Milk are about to learn that their dying Vermont town has more secrets than they ever thought possible–and there are those who will do anything to protect them.
Which title appeals to you? Is there one you’re excited to read this year? Let’s discuss!