Rachel loves to ride the commuter train into the city each day. She loves to look out the windows and see the backyards of the houses which back up to the tracks. She makes up stories about the people who live in the homes, especially the young married couple in one home in particular…so in love, so beautiful, so “together”… Not like her, and her messy life.
But one day Rachel is looking out the window and she sees the lovely blond woman kiss another man in the backyard-a man who isn’t her husband. The next day, the woman is in the news. She has gone missing. Rachel tries to tell the police she saw the woman with another man, but they don’t believe her. They think she’s just a bored, sick woman who wants attention. But Rachel can’t let go. She knows something terrible has happened to the woman and she sets out to find out what happened that night…Because Rachel was in the neighborhood that night, but she can’t remember what happened. She was inebriated and only remembers patched, blotchy memories. Did she see the missing woman that night? Or is she losing her mind?
Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, is a psychological thriller set in England, in the vein of Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn), Everything She Forgot (Lisa Ballantyne), The Lace Reader (Brunonia Barry), and You Should Have Known (Jean Hanff Korelitz).
If you love edge-of-your-seat reads with unreliable narrators (I sure do) then Girl on the Train should absolutely be on your t0-read list.
The Flavia de Luce series is a special favorite of mine. If you love cheeky british heroines and a good murder mystery, you don’t want to miss it. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, by Alan Bradley, is the 6th novel in the series, which started with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.
In the 6th installment, Flavia has been sent to some kind of mysterious finishing school in Canada, Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, where her deceased mother Harriet went to school. The first night, unfortunately, a singed body falls out of the chimney like a blackened mummy, right onto the floor of her bedroom-and no one wants to talk about what might have befallen the poor victim-or who it might be. Something is very suspicious right away, her chaperones to the school are very strange and she can’t make heads or tails of the cryptic messages she keeps getting from her teachers and fellow students. Is there a conspiracy in effect? Who is in on the secret? Who can she trust? What will happen if she asks the wrong person the wrong question?
Our cheeky little heroine isn’t one to shy away from a challenge, however…She’s determined to shake out the truth no matter what danger befalls her in the process.
This series is a top recommendation from me to you…Don’t miss it! And if you do audiobooks, the audiobook for this series is perfectly narrated and very enjoyable. No excuses, start this series!
A Pattern of Lies, by Charles Todd, is the 7th novel in a series starring the heroine Bess Crawford, a Nurse during World War I who uses her wit and solid reputation to help friends and acquaintances to solve mysteries and get out of dire situations.
A Pattern of Lies is set in Kent in 1916, Bess is on leave and visiting the Ashtons, a well-to-do aristocratic family beset with tragedy. Their gunpowder mill burned down, killing more than a hundred men, and the town seems set on blaming the father of her friend and watching him hang on the gallows. But Bess thinks there is more to the story and she uses every resource available to her to find the truth. Someone is sabotaging the Ashtons, vandalizing their property and even setting fire to their home. Who could want to harm the Ashtons and can Bess sniff them out before someone is hurt, or worse?
The Bess Crawford novels are a dignified, proper read with intelligent language and a slow, simmering pace that can’t be rushed. The reader is tickled with details gently up until the final climax and it’s a slow burn with a satisfying ending. If you like novels that are perfect for a slow, breezy, quiet day, A Pattern of Lies, by Charles Todd, will be a great choice for you.
Francoise Laurent is the 16-year-old daughter of an alcoholic laundress and a drunkard. She wears her fingers down to the bone helping her parents to pay the rent and keep a minimum of food on the table. She dreams of another life, life as a maid, with nice clean dresses and ribbons in her hair. When small pox strikes her household and she is the only survivor, she sees an opportunity to be all that she had ever dreamed of…Maid to Madame Pommereau, the wife of a wealthy fur trader. She humbles herself to the woman and is taken under her wing…But the mistress is very moody and her sharp tongue is almost unbearable at times. One day, Francoise sees the chance to take a pair of Madame’s beautiful gloves, relishing the thought of having something so very beautiful to call her own.
Before Francoise knows what is happening, she is thrown into jail, accused of stealing the gloves and sentenced to death by hanging. Everyone in Quebec in the time period knows that the only way for a woman awaiting death to avoid the noose is if she marries the hangman and he makes himself responsible for her. Due to an untimely death, there is no hangman, so she lives day after day in her cell, waiting for a man to be appointed the position. Then she gets an idea. The man next to her will be released from jail when his sentence has been served….What if she could convince him to become the hangman and marry her? And so she tells him her sad story…. Can she convince this man to volunteer for the worst job of all, being responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people who have sometimes only stolen food for starving families? Will he marry her?
This novel does a beautiful job of showing the harshness of Quebec in 18th-century Canada, where people left France to find a New World, and only found disease, poverty, and tyrannical laws. If you enjoy historical fiction that shows the injustice of the times, like Kathleen Kent’s The Heretic’s Daughter, you will want to add The Hangman in the Mirror, by Kate Cayley, to your to-read list.