The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell


Two women from very different worlds meet up in the most unlikely place…Oakgate Prison’s female ward. Ruth is a teenage girl with a tragic history who was thrown into unimaginable treatment at the hands of her mistress before the woman died and Ruth was locked behind bars for her murder. Dorothea Truelove is a lady of society who has an obsession with the macabre which mystifies everyone around her. The interests of the latter bring her to Oakgate Prison, where she visits the prisoners regularly and provides charitable donations to their needs.

Dorothea’s prison visits serve as an escape for her from the trappings of marriage which her father has set for her…Somehow, with Ruth, however, Dorothea finds herself more than just distracted. Ruth’s tale is so heartbreaking and surreal that she’s sure it cannot be true…. Could a simple needle and thread bring forth the curse of death? What could possibly have happened to a teenage girl to make her end her mistress’s life with poison?

As Dorothea’s curiosity mounts, and the hangman’s noose approaches, she decides to do some investigating of her own into Ruth’s sad story. Will she be able to bring the truth forward in time to save the girl? Will she have time to save herself, once she learns the horrible truth about her own life and the death of her own mother?

Two stories cross paths in a tale that is gothic and dark, dancing the line between horror and mystery. What is real? What is coming from the imagination of a very disturbed teenage girl? Dorothea will find out for herself.

The Poison Thread, by Laura Purcell, is not a cozy mystery. If you enjoy darker, more intense psychological thrillers, then this story is for you. Fair warning, however…Once you start this novel, you won’t want to put it down!

The Girls, by Emma Cline

Alienated teenage girl Evie Boyd is trying to cope with her parents’ divorce, a sudden rift with her longtime best friend, and the usual teenage confusion and angst-ridden misery. One day, while out on her own, she meets a charismatic older teen named Suzanne, and her summer takes her on a wild ride that no one will ever forget.

Suzanne lives on a ranch in northern California where she and various other social misfits have created a counter-culture community. The ’60s are no longer in full swing, but the free love and rejection of materialism and selfishness are like sweet nectar for impressionable Evie. The leader of the cult is Russell, and he encourages the women to share themselves with him…and anyone else he offers up as well. Drugs, sex, impoverished living conditions and a crowd of miscreant members of society…They feel at first like exactly what Evie needs. Her anger with her parents, her hurt at the rejection of her best friend, her feeling of otherness wherever she goes… She wants to be a part of something. To matter.

The commune welcomes her with open arms, but she learns the hard way that there is a price to pay, and it is her own innocence. As pressure increases on the ranch and Russell’s coveted record deal breaks down, the hive is stirred into a frenzy and Russell is about to test the loyalty of his flock in the most horrifying way.

Inspired by the events of Spahn Ranch and Charles Manson, The Girls, by Emma Cline, is an intense, “can’t-put-it-down” wander through the mind of a 14 year old girl ripe for the picking by Charles Manson and his followers. Anyone who has ever been a teenage girl struggling to find her identity and place in the world will be able to relate to this haunting account that will leave you stunned and without words, thinking deep into the night about what you just read.

Disclaimer: If you do not think you might want to read about a drug and violence driven cult that predates on teenage girls, I’d leave The Girls, by Emma Cline, alone. If you don’t mind a little grit, definitely find out for yourself what it’s all about.

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Maud may hold the only clues to the case of a missing woman… But she suffers from dementia, and the clues fade in and out of her consciousness. No one seems to want to help her find her best friend Elizabeth and no one believes her when she tells them the woman has gone missing.

But things are not all as they seem in Maud’s world, and the past keeps stirring up into the present. Maud’s sister disappeared decades ago and was never found. Can the two mysteries be related in some way? Why do specific images and memories keep coming to her mind, so close but then sliding back out of reach before she can connect the dots? Does the truth about the missing women live inside a grandmother with advanced dementia who will stop at nothing until the truth resurfaces for once and for all?

Elizabeth is missing by Emma Healey was a special read for me because I too have loved a grandmother who suffered much like Maud. The unreliable narrator tests your patience brutally, and the choppy stream of consciousness is highly irregular for a mystery novel. But if you love women’s fiction and suspense novels, and you think you have what it takes to follow endearing, sassy, confused Maud through her story, I highly recommend the book.

Under the Same Blue Sky by Pamela Schoenewaldt


Hazel Renner was raised by German-American parents in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When she came of age, she learned that her parents were not her true birth parents, that her early memories of a grand house with servants and fancy dinners is actually a memory from her childhood, and not a lingering dream. She leaves the home of her adoptive parents to be a teacher in a rural town called Galway and she hopes to find her own identity. Strange events ensue that will haunt her for a lifetime. Stunned by tragedy and injustice, she tries to trace her roots back to her mother, hoping to break the cycle that her birth mother started, causing destruction in her wake and possibly passing it to her daughter.

Her past leads her to a castle owned by a German Baron, a gardener who may be the love of her life, and a discovery of what she really wants in life…But with World War I in effect, she stands to lose everything and everyone dear to her.

Under the Same Sky, by Pamela Schoenewaldt, is a novel with a touch of magic, a lot of heart, and the deep emotion associated with loss and love. Readers may remember a previous novel by Pamela Schoenewaldt, Swimming in the Moon, which I covered when it first came out. Pamela Shoenewaldt has a gift for the deepest uncertainty which comes with blind love for someone, or many “someones” in your life-and the possibility that they are broken, damaged, or capable of harming themselves or others.

Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik


The setting is a New England prep school. Everything seems squeaky clean and controlled from the outside…But there are too many secrets. One night, the unimaginable occurs. Sixteen-year-old Nica Baker is killed, her body found in the nearby cemetery. What reason would anyone have to kill a rebellious teenage girl? Her sister, Grace is determined to find out what happened to her sister, determined to find closure so she can fight her own demons.

The sleepy little prep school is hiding some very toxic secrets, ranging from drugs to sex scandals, possibly even leading to murder and suicide. Can Grace sort out who is responsible for the death of her sister? Can she sift through the unimaginable sordid details and find a common vein? Is the killer still out there? Are her own parents somehow involved?

Dark Rooms, by Lili Anolik, will appeal to readers in the Gillian Flynn genres (Sharp Objects, Dark Places, Gone Girl). Definitely for adults only, definitely dark and heavy suspense, uprooting the most miserable aspects of human nature and revealing all that people try to hide from the world. This suspense novel is a top pick for 2015, so if you are in the mood for creepy, thrilling suspense, order Dark Rooms today. If you are sensitive and prefer more “cozy” mysteries, steer clear.

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

help for the haunted by john searles

Sylvie Mason does not live a normal life. Her parents are in the business of paranormal activity-they offer “Help for the Haunted” to those in need, offering prayer and peace to souls in torment. They call themselves demonologists. This, of course, means that Sylvie has never been able to hold onto friends, and she has a hard time fitting in. Critics constantly attack her and her family wherever they travel, and they travel regularly to do talks about the paranormal at conventions and events. Strange people are always seeking the help of the Masons for loved ones who are “haunted” or “possessed”. Sylvie accepts the life she has been born into, but her sister, Rose, is not only skeptical, but highly rebellious and confrontational. Life is strained in the Mason household, and on a night like many others, the Masons receive a phone call and tell Sylvie she is to load up into the family car, without much explanation. Her parents left that car, but they never returned. When Sylvie wakes up, she finds that her entire world is gone, and the mystery surrounding the deaths of her mother and father hangs over her heavily.

When the man originally cleared for the murder of her parents is suddenly cleared by an alibi, Sylvie goes on a mission to find out what truly happened to her mother and father that night, and what has been kept from her by everyone around her for her entire life. This takes her down a path with a conclusion so shocking, readers will be stunned. If you like the paranormal, you will be enthralled by Help for the Haunted, by John Searles, through to the very last page. Readers who love the mystery of Emily Arsenault (Miss Me When I’m Gone and In Search of the Rose Notes) will also enjoy this wonderfully eerie novel. Top marks from this reviewer.

Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs


Forensic Anthropologist Temperance Brennan is back with the 15th installment in the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs, which many of you already know has been in the inspiration for the television series called Bones.

This novel explores Canadian Diamond mining, the underworld of drug dealing and prostitution, and a lineup of dead babies that will leave you in shock and dying to find out what really happened. A simple-minded woman disappears, leaving a dead baby in her apartment, and Temperance and the investigators who make up her usual team have set out to find the woman before the bad guys get to her first…Or perhaps before they realize Temperance is sniffing around and decide to take her out of the equation.

The novels of this series are full of interesting facts and very well-researched, each novel takes Temperance into a new avenue of crime and corruption, bouncing around between Canada and the U.S. and even venturing overseas on occasion. If you like forensic science, you will love this series, and if you have read other novels in the Temperance Brennan series, Bones are Forever will not disappoint.

Sleeping in Eden by Nicole Baart


The suicide of a local drunk in Blackhawk, Iowa, holds very little suprise for the residents of the town. Doctor Lucas Hudson, a local physician, is called up by the police to fill in as coroner and witnesses a true horror when the body of a possible murder victim is found in the dirt of the barn, underneath the original body. Does the body belong to the missing daughter of the local man, Angela, who disappeared 8 years ago? If so, was she murdered by her own father? If not, who could she be? The missing girl has ties to his wife and he finds himself being pulled into the mystery when he finds a ring at the crime scene and is compelled to find out for himself to whom it belongs. With his marriage in tatters, Dr. Hudson begins an obsession that is very dangerous and holds the potential to solve or ruin his entire life.

Sleeping in Eden, by Nicole Baart,  is very like Miss Me When I’m Gone: a Novel and In Search of the Rose Notes, by Emily Arsenault- Mysterious, unexplained death and an obsession to solve the crime endangering  the hero/heroine who wants to see the investigation to it’s surprising end. Dark secrets are revealed. If you like a good murder mystery, or if you enjoy Arsenault, you will want to buy or download this one and try it out.

Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs

Temperance Brennan returns in this forensic anthropology mystery, Flash and Bones. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Kathy Reichs’ work, Flash and Bones is the 14th novel in the Temperance Brennan series, which circles around a Forensic Anthropologist who helps to identify bodies that are damaged beyond recognition or skeletons in the U.S. and in Canada. This series brought about the very popular mystery television series called Bones.

Flash and Bones takes place in Charlotte, North Carolina, during Race Week. A body is found in the local dump, near the race track, and some unsolved mysteries from decades past resurface. It’s up to Tempe to sort through the clues and find an identity for the body, despite the fact that the FBI seems to want her off the case. Some very shady individuals are hanging around the race track lately, and one man claims that his sister who disappeared decades ago was murdered, and it has something to do with the last place she was seen-the track.

Will Tempe solve the murder before the murderer gets his hands on her to keep her quiet? What is the FBI trying to cover up?

True to the author’s usual style, you won’t find out the solution until all of the shady characters and clues have been laid out before you…And a sexy Private Investigator is starting to show some interest in the Forensic Anthropologist too…

If you like murder mysteries and don’t mind reading about them from a Forensic/Medical Examiner kind of vantage (it can be very descriptive), then you will want to check out this series. I suggest you start at the beginning, however, if you want to give them a try. (Otherwise her love life doesn’t make much sense).

…And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman

Heloise (Helen)  Lewis has multiple lives…And many, many secrets. One of her alter egos is a wholesome working single mother, running an online business and hitting soccer games on the weekends. The other  is the Madame of a very discreet suburban “escort” service. Between booking politicians for late night rendezvous, and making parent night at school, her plate is looking pretty full. And about to get much worse.

A woman in a neighboring town has been arrested for doing exactly what Heloise is doing (but much less discreetly), and she is found dead in her car, an apparent suicide, but the police aren’t ruling out foul play. Heloise’s connection in the police is retiring, and he has warned her that she needs to get out of the business, but he can’t tell her why. A past employee is threatening to sue Heloise for something that may or may not actually be legitimate, and everyone is just getting a little too curious for her comfort. The father of her son, who her son believes to be dead, is actually serving time in prison for murder and has been taking a cut out of her business for years as a “silent partner”, but she is starting to believe that he has more connections to the outside than she originally thought…And someone may be out for blood.

This suburban madame has some serious decisions to make, and the lies are becoming more than any one person can handle.  What will Heloise do? Will the killer come after her next? Should she pay the woman who has been blackmailing her? Should she go on a date with Mr. Hottie from the grocery store amid all the chaos that is her life? What will happen if her son finds out what she actually does for a living? What will happen if her ex finds out that he has a son? Are the police onto her operation? When is enough, enough?

This novel is a brilliant and believable portrayal of the close calls and pitfalls of the more discreet side of the prostitution industry, portrayed to you through the eyes of a strong female who needs to learn just how to take control over her own life and stop answering to threats and intimidation. Watch Heloise as she becomes a woman that her son can be proud of….

This novel is clearly women’s fiction, but it lacks much of the humor that you would find in Chicklit. The story is more realistic than humorous and I am sad to tell you that there are absolutely no bodice-ripping “50 Shades of Grey” scenes. The author, much like her heroine, is very discreet. If you like to broaden your horizons and read something that stands on it’s own as an interested read with a topic that would intrigue most hot-blooded individuals, then be sure to check it out. This novel stands alone in it’s class, and that’s not a bad thing. If it sounds good to you, pick up And When She Was Good, by Laura Lippman,  today!