Coyle's Pick of the Month, Chapman, Heaberlin, Hillier, Indridason, Sacks, African Crime Fiction, and Missing Children | Mystery & Suspense Reviews

Coyle's 17th series entry combines timely social issues with a gripping and entertaining mystery; the award-winning McPherson launches a new contemporary series with a bang; this series set in Zimbabwe will appeal to readers who enjoy descriptive details; for thriller readers, Jewell’s latest will not disappoint

Pick of the Month

redstarCoyle, Cleo. Shot in the Dark. Berkley Prime Crime. (Coffeehouse, Bk. 17). Apr. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9780451488848. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780451488855. M

Thanks to a smartphone dating app called Cinder, the Greenwich Village coffee shop managed by Clare Cosi has become a hot meet-up spot until a customer is arrested for threatening a former date. When the drama goes viral on social media, Clare worries not only about her business but also about the people involved, including her ex-husband. When she recognizes a murder victim as a customer, her concerns seem justified. With help from her employees, former mother-in-law, and daughter, Clare attempts to link the killer and victim to the dating app and discovers the cops are working the case from a drug angle. VERDICT In her 17th series entry (after Cold Dead Brew), Coyle, the pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi writing with husband Marc Cerasini, combines timely social issues (dating apps, designer opioids) with a gripping and entertaining mystery that features an appealing cast of supportive and loving family members and coworkers. [See Prepub Alert, 11/15/17.]—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Check These Out

redstarChapman, Julia. Date with Malice. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. (Samson & Delilah, Bk. 2). Apr. 2018. 400p. ISBN 9781250109385. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250109392. M

Samson O’Brien has two new cases at his Dales Detective Agency. Alice Shepherd, a resident of the senior independent living home, insists someone is trying to kill her. And a local farmer’s prize ram is missing. In the Yorkshire Dales, the ram is vital to livelihood, while Alice is forgetful and elderly. Then Alice dies. After another member of the community ends up hospitalized, ­Samson’s landlady Delilah Metcalfe and the seniors at Fellside Court join him in an undercover investigation. The likable duo from A Date with Death return in this delightful atmospheric English mystery with dark undercurrents. The romantic undertones to the feisty relationship between Samson, a suspended cop, and Delilah, the owner of a dating agency, leavens the novel’s uneasy mood with humor. The smooth transition in perspectives among the characters allows readers to develop a sense of the local community, while also allowing the two leads to maintain secrets that foreshadow trouble in future books. VERDICT Mystery readers who love to escape to Louise Penny’s village of Three Pines will enjoy becoming acquainted with the Dales town of Bruncliffe and its quirky residents. The ongoing suspenseful story line will keep series fans hooked.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Dovalpage, Teresa. Death Comes in Through the Kitchen: A Cuban Mystery. Soho Crime. Mar. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9781616958848. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616958855. M

Cuban-born Dovalpage’s second English-language novel (A Girl Like Che Guevara) features Padrino, a retired police detective who practices the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria. It’s 2003, and American journalist Matt has illegally traveled to Cuba to visit Yarmila, the beautiful woman he fell in love with through her food blog. He’s brought her cooking gear that’s impossible to get in Cuba and with great optimism, a wedding dress. Anticipating a happy reunion, Matt instead arrives at Yarmi’s Havana apartment to find her dead in the bathtub, while the Cuban police swiftly detain him and take his passport. When they finally let him go but retain his passport, Matt turns to ­Padrino for help. As Matt and Padrino try to find Yarmi’s killer, they begin to suspect Yarmi was living a double life. Matt begins to wonder who Yarmi really was, but he also finds himself questioning his own identity when he experiences unexpected feelings for a local drag queen. VERDICT Don’t let the title and included Cuban recipes mislead you into thinking this is a cozy—this novel shows the gritty side of Cuba in a mystery more notable for its compelling portrayal of Cuban life than the detecting.— Melissa DeWild, Spring Lake Dist. Lib., MI

DuBois, Brendan. Hard Aground. Pegasus Crime. (Lewis Cole, Bk. 11). Apr. 2018. 224p. ISBN 9781681776521. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781681777269. M

Lewis Cole is homebound, recovering from surgery, when antiques dealer and local historian Maggie Tyler Branch is shot to death. With a girlfriend who is an editor at the local newspaper and another friend on the police force, he keeps on top of the investigation when they come to his house to change his medical drains. In fact, it seems his historic house has become ground zero. Lewis is convinced an intruder is trying to break into his home at night, and by day, he is harassed by two genealogists who desperately try to enter. Lewis has plenty of time to analyze the murder, find the local connection to the opioid crisis, and attempt to piece together the secrets that link to his house. VERDICT DuBois’s 11th series entry (after Storm Cell) is a riveting Rear Window–type drama of a man trapped in a menacing environment, forced to rely on his wits, rather than brawn, to solve a crime. Suggest to readers of Laura Lippman’s The Girl in the Green Raincoat or Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time.— Lesa Holstine, Evansville ­Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Grimes, Martha. The Knowledge. Atlantic Monthly. (Richard Jury, Bk. 24). Apr. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9780802128010. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780802146250. M

Grimes’s latest “Richard Jury” mystery (after Vertigo 42) is a salute to those who drive the famous black cabs of London after passing the rigorous training course known as the Knowledge. The story begins with a glamorous couple, having emerged from the back of a black taxi, being gunned down in front of an exclusive London casino/art gallery. The shooter then gets in the cab and demands to be driven to several sites around London. He is followed by a clutch of ­cabbies and a gaggle of children who keep tabs on him, including the redoubtable ten-year-old Patty Haigh, who cajoles her way aboard a flight to Africa in pursuit of the killer. Before it’s all resolved, readers are introduced to the erratic streets of London, astrophysics, the blue gemstone tanzanite, and the comfort of first-class travel on Emirates Airlines. VERDICT Fans of Richard Jury should enjoy this new entry. Others will find a convoluted plot enlivened by fetching bit players, especially Patty, who comes equipped with a backpack overflowing with wigs, glitter, multiple pairs of glasses, and enough chutzpah to make even Baby Rose Marie look sedate. [Library marketing; five-city tour.]—Bob Lunn, Kansas City, MO

Heaberlin, Julia. Paper Ghosts. Ballantine. May 2018. 368p. ISBN 9780804178020. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780804178037. THRILLER

What do you do with a criminal who has escaped justice and now has dementia? Carl Feldman—a documentary photographer now residing in an assisted-living facility—may be just such a person. And though he was acquitted for one murder, he’s probably committed many more. That last fact is what brings a young woman to Carl’s door; she says she’s his daughter and wants to get to know him, but in reality she is determined to delve into the reaches of his memory. She’s determined to find the man who killed her older sister, and believes Carl is responsible. And while Carl isn’t fully convinced that she’s his daughter and claims not to remember killing anyone, he does agree to accompany the woman on a death trip, which will take them to the sites where he is suspected to have enacted the crimes. VERDICT ­Heaberlin’s latest (after Black-Eyed Susans) is a tense, gripping read with a cat-and-mouse game that will keep readers riveted. [See Prepub Alert, 11/21/17.]— Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI

redstarHillier, Jennifer. Jar of Hearts. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jun. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781250154194. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250154217. THRILLER

Georgina “Geo” Shaw is a successful businesswoman and engaged to a wealthy CEO, but a secret from her past returns with a vengeance when she’s arrested and jailed for being an accessory to the murder of her best friend from high school. Geo’s ex-boyfriend, a serial killer known as the Sweetbay Strangler, killed Angela Wong, and Geo’s role in helping to cover it up and keeping the secret for 14 years gets her up to five years in prison. Hillier’s (The Butcher; Freak) concise and original thriller opens with the end of Geo’s trial and the start of her jail term. As details are revealed about the original crime, new murders begin. The story lines are intertwined between past and present, and with little foreshadowing, readers are taken on a journey in real time with the characters. By alternating narrative perspectives between Geo and Kaiser Brody, a former friend–turned–cop, Hillier builds sympathy and compassion for the highly flawed Geo. VERDICT With one mystery already solved before the start of the narrative and with much of the story set in prison, this psychological thriller is unlike any other. Enthralled readers will be rooting for Geo in the end. [See Prepub 12/11/17.]—Natalie Browning, Longwood Univ. Lib., Farmville, VA

Indridason, Arnaldur. The Shadow Killer. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. May 2018. 304p. tr. from Icelandic by Victoria Cribb. ISBN 9781250124043. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250124050. M

In the second thriller set in wartime Iceland (after The Shadow District), Flóvent, Reykjavik’s sole detective, investigates the murder of a traveling salesman, found shot to death in a basement flat with a swastika smeared on his forehead with his own blood. The bullet came from a U.S. military service pistol, so suspicion initially falls on a member of the occupying Allied forces. Flóvent is joined by Thorson, a Canadian military police officer, in a series of intense interviews with residents familiar with the victim. Evidence emerges of questionable experiments a German doctor carried out on local schoolboys in the 1930s. But the detectives also suspect the victim’s girlfriend and her British soldier lover. But before they can resolve the case, U.S. Counterintelligence seeks to take over the investigation, fearing the murder may have exposed a major counterespionage operation on the Continent. VERDICT Rather than penning a series of action sequences, Indridason builds suspense through a steady progression of extensive interviews with his sleuths doggedly prodding witnesses with dark probing questions. The result is a haunting and foreboding mood that will attract fans of Nordic noir. However, more thrills-oriented readers may find the satisfactory and unsurprising climax tedious. [See Prepub Alert, 11/27/17.]—Jerry P. Miller. Cambridge, MA

Knoll, Jessica. The Favorite Sister. S. & S. May 2018. 384p. ISBN 9781501153198. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501153211. THRILLER

Sibling rivalry is not unfamiliar to sisters Brett and Kelly, and this tension escalates when they’re cast in the same reality show Goal Diggers, which features young, ambitious female entrepreneurs. But did this jealousy lead to Brett’s mysterious death? The novel fluctuates between past and present from the points of view of three of the cast members. Stephanie hides a dead marriage and a string of affairs that only contribute to her unhappiness. Kelly is constantly trapped in her sister’s shadow, wanting to be recognized for her own accomplishments. And Brett, who appears to have everything she ever wanted, hides her own reality from the cameras. VERDICT Knoll’s second thriller (after Luckiest Girl Alive) combines the cut-throat world of reality television and the competition for fame among alleged friends. The unexpected and unpredictable twists and surprising revelations will delight suspense fans.—Adriana Delgado, Palm Beach Cty. Lib., Loxahatchee, FL

redstarMcPherson, Catriona. Scot Free. Midnight Ink. (Last Ditch, Bk. 1). Apr. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780738753867. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780738754512. M

In an impulsive moment, Lexy Campbell left her native Scotland, married her American dentist boyfriend, and started her marriage counseling practice in California. Six months later, the marriage has fallen apart, and Lexy has one more final session with her clients, the Bombaros, before she returns to Scotland. But Lexy’s clients don’t show. Mr. Bombaro is in the morgue, and his wife is in jail, suspected of killing him. Lexy can’t let that sweet old lady take the rap, so she finds a room down the street at the Last Ditch Motel. An invasion of bugs, an influx of Mrs. Bombaro’s relatives, and a suspicious cop can’t keep Lexy and her new friends from the motel from investigating. VERDICT The award-winning author of the historical “Dandy Gilver” mysteries launches a new contemporary series with a bang. Her character-driven romp is sparked by the larger-than-life, quirky residents of the Last Ditch Motel, putting this laugh-out-loud whodunit on a par with the early Janet ­Evanovich.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

redstarParis, B.A. Bring Me Back. St. Martin’s. Jun. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9781250151339. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250151353. THRILLER

Finn and Layla, hopelessly in love, stop at a public rest area on their return from a romantic ski weekend in France. When Finn comes back to the car, he sees the door open and evidence of a scuffle. Layla is gone, never to be heard from again. Finn is accused of her murder and has to comprehend that Layla’s body was never found. His only solace is his dog and the country house he shared with Layla, until he finds love and happiness again with Ellen, Layla’s sister. Consoling each other over their loss, Ellen and Finn slowly build a relationship, with Ellen moving in and Finn proposing marriage. But when they announce their engagement, strange things occur. A tiny Russian doll, just like one that belonged to Layla, appears on Finn’s car. He receives emails claiming Layla is alive. Then there are sightings of her around town. ­Ellen and Finn must accept the possibility that Layla is alive. And what Finn didn’t tell the police about the night of her death. VERDICT Paris (Behind Closed Doors; The Breakdown) once again proves her suspense chops with this can’t-put-down psychological thriller.— Marianne Fitzgerald, Severna Park H.S., MD

redstarPenrose, Andrea. Murder at Half Moon Gate. Kensington. (Wrexford & Sloane, Bk. 2). Mar. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9781496710796. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781496710802. M

After a night of gambling, Lord ­Wrexford and his friend Sheffield, discover a dead body in an alley. Always a scientist, ­Wrexford checks on the victim, although he turns the case over to a watchman. It isn’t long before the victim’s widow shows up at Wrexford’s home begging for his assistance, claiming he had once helped her husband, an inventor, who had been working a revolutionary steam engine design. Wrexford turns to Charlotte Sloane, who under the pseudonym A.J. Quill, is recognized as a skilled satirical cartoonist. Together, the two use his society friends, her network of informers, and a group of clever street urchins to investigate the murder of a man whose inventions could change industry and England forever. VERDICT The compelling follow-up to Murder on Black Swan Lane is an intricately plotted mystery set in Regency England. Its complex story line and authentic historical details bring the early days of the Industrial Revolution vividly to life. Bound to fascinate readers of C.S. Harris and even fans of Victorian mysteries.— Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

redstarSacks, Michelle. You Were Made for This. Little, Brown. Jun. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9780316475402. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780316475433. SUSPENSE

DEBUT Sacks’s first novel expertly portrays the dark side of domesticity and motherhood. A young married couple with an adorable baby boy, Merry and Sam are reveling in their new life in the isolated Swedish countryside. Merry is the epitome of familial devotion; Sam is proud of how he’s molded her into such a domestic goddess. But he doesn’t see the word HELP written by a finger in the dust, or hear the baby’s wailing for hours on end. Sam doesn’t realize that Merry is an expert at illusion, her interchangeable selves gliding in and out of roles like an actress in a play. But Merry’s performance may not be enough when her closest childhood friend Frank comes for an extended visit and reignites the rivalry between them. Frank can see through Merry’s façade of domestic happiness; each is a missing piece to the other’s puzzle. When tragedy strikes, secrets unravel. Who will survive and who will be sacrificed? VERDICT Fans of dark and twisted psychological thrillers will be swept up in the appearance of domestic bliss and maternal perfection, only to be left off-kilter and breathless with each costume change. [See Prepub Alert, 12/11/17.]—K.L. Romo, Duncanville, TX

Wagner, David P. A Funeral in Mantova. Poisoned Pen. (Rick Montoya, Bk. 5). Mar. 2018. 228p. ISBN 9781464209499. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781464209529. M

Rick Montoya, an American translator living in Rome, is hired by wealthy American Angelo Rondini to be his guide and interpreter in Mantova. Angelo was born in Italy, but his parents emigrated when he was an infant. Now, he’s back for the funeral of his cousin Roberto, whom he never knew. But, Inspector Crespi has questions about the death of the well-to-do dairy farmer. Rick discovers that there are a number of people who didn’t like Roberto. There were squabbles about land, fishing, and politics. As he investigates further, Rick also uncovers questions about Angelo’s own history. ­VERDICT Following Return to Umbria, Wagner’s fifth series outing features a likable amateur sleuth who carefully analyzes other people. Rich in details of the food and culture of Italy’s Lombardy region, this atmospheric mystery will be appreciated by fans of Martin Walker’s French-flavored “Bruno” mysteries. Readers of Frances Mayes’s Under the Tuscan Sun may enjoy the colorful descriptions.— Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

cozy corner

Clark, Becky. Fiction Can Be Murder. Midnight Ink. (Mystery Writer’s Mystery, Bk. 1). Apr. 2018. 312p. ISBN 9780738753324. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780738753706. M

When literary agent Melinda Walter is murdered, even Charlemagne “Charlee” ­Russo’s boyfriend questions the mystery author. Melinda was killed in the same method as the victim in Charlee’s latest unpublished manuscript. Charlee may be the primary suspect, but at least 15 other people could have read that story, including the members of her writing group. Charlee fears for her own life, but she heroically attempts to exonerate her friends from the suspect list. Not only is the murder method outrageous, but there’s an absurd solution with improbable motivation for the actual killer in this series launch by the author of Marshmallow Mayhem. Morever, the large cast of ­characters may be confusing at times. ­VERDICT Readers looking for a quirky cast in a humorous mystery may do better with Janet Evanovich, Tonya Kappes, or K.J. Larsen.— Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Kashian, Tina. Hummus and Homicide. Kensington. (Kebab Kitchen, Bk. 1). Mar. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9781496713476. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781496713483. M

After losing her job as a patent attorney, Lucy Berberian returns home to the Jersey Shore where her parents run a Mediterranean restaurant. Now her parents want to retire and are thinking of selling it to ­Lucy’s ex-boyfriend Azad. Even worse, the new health inspector, Heather Banks, was a mean girl in high school, and still dislikes Lucy. But that doesn’t mean Lucy killed her, although she is the one who serves Heather’s last meal, and stumbles over her body outside the restaurant’s back door. Of course, the local cop suspects Lucy because Lucy’s sister dumped him. This mystery debut by a romance writer (Lady of Scandal) is typical of many first culinary cozies. The amateur sleuth loses a job, returns home to the family restaurant, becomes a murder suspect, and leaves two men dangling while she solves the crime. It also includes recipes. VERDICT While there’s nothing new that makes this cozy stand out, its likable characters and colorful kebab restaurant setting may whet the appetite of devotees of foodie mysteries. Competing series include Susannah Hardy’s “Greek to Me” books and Kylie Logan’s “Ethnic Eats” mysteries.—Lesa Holstine, ­Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Swanson, Denise. Tart of Darkness. Sourcebooks Landmark. (Chef-To-Go, Bk. 1). Apr. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9781492648383. pap. $7.99. M

When Dani Sloan inherits an old house, it offers her the perfect opportunity to open her dream catering company, Chef-To-Go. But the first time Dani caters a large party, a spoiled rich girl dumps a tray of drinks over her head. When the young woman is found dead the next day, an obviously unhinged police detective targets Dani. She teams up with the attractive head of security at the local university to learn who had the opportunity to kill the woman. It seems quite a few people had reasons to want her dead. Readers familiar with Swanson’s “Scumble River” series (Dead in the Water) will recognize a few related names and threads in this series launch, which incorporates the typical cozy mystery tropes. There’s a little more emphasis on the romantic attraction than readers will see in many first cozies, and for a change, there’s a sympathetic killer. VERDICT The catering business offers plenty of opportunities for an amateur sleuth in a pleasant, if ordinary, series opener that will interest fans of the author’s other works.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Weiss, Kirsten. Déjà Moo. Midnight Ink. (Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, Bk. 3). Mar. 2018. 360p. ISBN 9780738750361. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780738753928. M

Maddie Koslowski’s truck breaks down while she’s on her way to help her mother guard San Benedetto’s traditional 30-foot straw Christmas Cow, so she’s not there when four gingerbread men and Santa Claus attack the cow with flaming arrows. But she and sexy police detective Jason Slate are on the scene to discover the body of a local politician with an arrow in his chest. It may have been a prank to set the cow on fire, but someone wanted the president of the dairy association dead. Now that ­Maddie is involved, it’s easy to blame the death on the cursed cowbells in the Christmas display at Maddie’s paranormal museum. When Slate is hit by a car aimed at Maddie, she partners with her inquisitive mother to find the culprit and dispel rumors that the haunted cowbells mean death. VERDICT Although it’s easy to identify the story’s killer, fans of light, humorous mysteries will enjoy the likable mother-daughter amateur sleuths and other quirky characters. The third volume in this engaging series (following Pressed to Death) will appeal to fans of paranormal cozies by Sofie Kelly and Christy Fifield.— Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

African Crime Fiction

Brynard, Karin. Weeping Waters. Europa. Apr. 2018. 512p. tr. from Afrikaans by Maya Fowler & Isobel Dixon. ISBN 9781609454463. pap. $18; ebk. ISBN 9781609454470. M

DEBUT South African police inspector Albertus Beeslaar, under a cloud, has been transferred from Johannesburg to a small town on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. In some ways the slower pace suits him, but there is not a lot of crime to occupy his time. Then a series of stock thefts turns into murder, and his boss presses him to make progress on the case. The brutal killing of a local artist and her adopted daughter is attributed to the same miscreants, but Beeslaar begins to doubt the convenient solution. He must move carefully as a white policeman in a newly black-governed country as he investigates the artist’s life and her interest in the contested history of the land. The victim’s indigenous Bushman farm manager is not being cooperative and obviously knows more of the story, while the deceased’s sister from the city is also trying to understand what happened in this tranquil town. More violent attacks and a resurgent white farmers’ militia add more complications. ­VERDICT Winner of the University of Johannesburg Debut Prize, this strong South African crime novel will appeal to fans of gritty yet exotic small-town settings and complicated mysteries that turn on local knowledge as much as procedure and intuition. A good read-alike for Jassy ­Mackenzie’s Bad Seeds and Martin Steyn’s Dark Traces.—Dan Forrest, Western Kentucky Univ. Libs., Bowling

Elliott, C.M. Sibanda and the Black Sparrowhawk. Jacana Media. (Sibanda, Bk. 3). Mar. 2018. 240p. ISBN 9781431402632. pap. $21.95; ebk. ISBN 9781431425464. M

After the skinned body of a young woman is found along the railway lines in the Zimbabwe bush, DI Jabulani Sibanda gathers his team, the always hungry Sergeant Ncube and the aging Land Rover named Miss Daisy. When he discovers that other young women have gone missing, Sibanda warns his superiors that a serial killer is targeting women on the railway. But, it will take all his intuition and skills to narrow the pool of suspects to one dangerous man. Elliott’s third police procedural (following Sibanda and the Death’s Head Moth) vividly brings the African bush to life. Sibanda is a larger-than-life, shrewd detective, but he also serves as an observant guide to Zimbabwe’s people, landscape, and wildlife. Despite the violent crimes depicted, Ncube and Miss Daisy add humor to what could be a dark story. Ncube’s love of food and his large family, including three wives, are essential to the atmosphere. VERDICT Readers who enjoy the descriptive details in the Botswana-set mysteries of Michael Stanley or Frederick Ramsay will appreciate this series set in Zimbabwe.— Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Missing Children

Belle, Kimberly. Three Days Missing. Park Row: Harlequin. Jun. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9780778307716. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781488095412. SUSPENSE

Two mothers are separated by circumstance—one entitled and privileged, the other barely surviving her nasty divorce. Two eight-year-old boys at the same private school connect the strikingly different families. The disappearance of one son will test both mothers’ courage. Kat Jenkins is frightened awake at three in the morning by a policeman banging on her door. Her son Ethan has vanished from a woodland camp, where his class traveled for an overnight field trip. Other than her sometimes violent soon-to-be ex-husband, Kat can’t imagine who would take her little boy. But soon, a stranger calls Stef ­Huntington, the mayor’s wife, and tells her that he has her son Sammy, a classmate of Ethan’s, who could almost be a look-alike, threatening to kill the boy if his demands aren’t met. Was the kidnapping a mix-up? With terror drawing much closer to each family than they realize, how far must each mother go to protect her child? VERDICT Readers who were riveted by Belle’s The Marriage Lie will be entertained by this suspenseful tale of love, jealousy, guilt, and betrayal. [See Prepub Alert, 12/11/17.]—K.L. Romo, Duncanville, TX

Jewell, Lisa. Then She Was Gone. Atria. Apr. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9781501154645. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501154669. SUSPENSE

Laurel Mack is still recovering from the loss of her teenage daughter Ellie. It’s been ten years since Ellie went missing, and every day Laurel feels that loss. It cost her her marriage to Paul and caused a rift with her two other children, Hannah and Jake. But Ellie was special to Laurel, the youngest, the brightest. Now getting on with her life, ­Laurel meets Floyd in a café. He’s charming and unusually similar to her ex-husband. Perhaps she can move on. As the relationship heats up, Laurel meets Floyd’s daughter, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Ellie. As Laurel learns more about Floyd and Poppy, unanswered questions from a decade ago return to haunt her. VERDICT For thriller readers, Jewell’s latest (after I Found You) will not disappoint. Sharply written with twists and turns, it will please fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, or Luckiest Girl Alive. [See Prepub Alert, 10/22/17.]—Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH

Ramsay, Caro. The Suffering of Strangers. Severn House. (Anderson & Costello, Bk. 9). Mar. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9780727887603. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9781780109381. M

When a new mother leaves her child in the car while she runs into the store, the unthinkable happens: when she returns, the infant is gone and a different baby, one with Down syndrome, has been left in his place. Glasgow DI Costello begins to investigate and soon realizes that the crime shows signs of having been carefully planned rather than one of opportunity. This leads Costello to set about finding and questioning the mother’s friends and acquaintances. At the same time, DCI Colin Anderson is investigating a cold case, convinced that there was a pattern in past attacks, including one that involves an old acquaintance. Ramsay’s ninth “Anderson and Costello” mystery (after Standing Still) continues the well-developed and engaging characterization found in her previous books, and the plot proceeds logically through the intricacies of the case. She draws in readers and skillfully provides more than one suspect as Costello searches for the truth. VERDICT Mystery and suspense fans will be thrilled to discover this British procedural series, with this latest addition hard to put down.—Linda Oliver, MLIS, Colorado Springs


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Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones


Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones


Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

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