The Woman in the Dark by Vanessa Savage

After Sarah’s mother passed away, she struggled to recover and her family was suffering. Her son was evasive and barely spoke, shutting everyone out of his life. Her daughter was defiant and disrespectful, a typical teenage girl but so very angry. Only Sarah’s marriage seemed strong enough to weather the storm…Until her husband declared that he wanted to buy his childhood home at the seaside, where they could all have a fresh start together and the idyllic childhood he always wanted for his children.

The plan would all sound so very lovely if Sarah didn’t know the truth. That idyllic childhood home was the scene of multiple murders. Nearly an entire family stabbed to death. No one had lived there since the incident and it had been waiting in disrepair, dilapidated and neglected for a decade. Sarah tried to resist, but she found herself too weak against the demands of her husband and his enthusiasm for their new life.

Immediately upon their arrival, Sarah begins to wonder if moving into the Murder House was a terrible, terrible idea. The house seems to whisper with the wind, and there are cold spots that make her skin crawl. The children are irritable and surly about the move, and Patrick has been acting strange ever since they moved in. An anger simmers in her husband that she never witnessed before, and the people in the town keep making comments which make Sarah wonder if her husband’s pleasant childhood memories were anything close to the truth. Figures can be seen staring up at the house at all hours of the day, hidden in the shadows and fog at night.

The Woman in the Dark is a psychological thriller which leaves you guessing until the very end. What secrets is Patrick hiding about his life in that house? What does he know about the murders which he is not revealing? Can Sarah save herself and her children from whatever evil resides in the bones of that creaking, moaning old house?

 

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 Grave’s A Fine and Private Place, by Alan Bradley

Flavia De Luce is a precocious young girl in a quiet little town called Bishop’s Lacey, a delightful little warren full of colorful characters located someplace in rural post-war England. Flavia De Luce isn’t any ordinary girl, unlike her more conformist older sisters. The boisterous, incorrigible girl has some unique hobbies, to include deadly poisons, forensic science, and even a bit of dabbling in decomposition of carbon based life forms.

When murder or suspicious deaths occur in her little town, Flavia sees herself as the obvious detective on the job. If only the local police were more appreciative of her insight and involvement…

The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place, by Alan Bradley, is the 9th novel in the Flavia De Luce series. One day while Flavia and her sisters are on holiday during a warm summer, Flavia happens upon a dead body floating in the water next to their boat. Something very suspicious is most definitely happening in the quiet little town. An air of mystery hangs over the local morgue, a shady police constable, and a scandal involving church members and a clergyman in which 4 people ended up deceased.

Flavia, true to form, has decided to solve the mystery for once and for all, despite the inability to use her laboratory at home, and the unwelcome reception from the local police. But can Flavia solve the mystery before the killer decides to turn attention to her?

Bradley fans will adore The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place, and mystery lovers who haven’t given the series a chance should definitely give it a try. You won’t be disappointed!

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Single mother Kate didn’t have it easy-she struggled daily to balance between her maternal responsibilities and the demands of her career as a successful lawyer. She thought that her daughter Amelia was weathering the strain fairly well, her grades had been good and she never seemed to have behavioral problems. Her private school was one of the best and she had long lasting friendships. Everything seemed ok.

But one day Kate gets a phone call from the school and her life is forever changed. Kate suddenly finds herself desperately trying to pick up the pieces of Amelia’s secret life and get answers to explain the tragedy that took her life.

Strange text messages from a boy Kate had never heard of before, anonymous threatening messages, provocative photos online… Kate is beginning to learn that her daughter was much more troubled than she had ever let on… Not to mention, the school is covering up something serious and the police may be corrupt, too.

Can Kate reconstruct her daughter’s life and figure out what really happened to her? Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight is a mystery/suspense novel of the Girl on the Train persuasion, where nothing is as it seems and people have many secrets. Pick it up today if you like dark, suspenseful mysteries.

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The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place and the Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood

Miss Penelope Lumley is a governess at the home of the honorable Lord Ashton, watching over three very peculiar but remarkable children. Beowulf, Cassiopeia, and Alexander were found in the woods attached to the Ashton Estate, and were rumored to have been, until the day that they were discovered, raised by wolves. Despite their distinctive canine behavior and habits, they are excellent pupils and quite gifted in many ways.

The children are not the only peculiar things living at Ashton Place, Lord Ashton comes from a line of Lords who have a strange genetic illness which causes them to make strange howling noises whenever there is a full moon…And the matriarch of the family has decided to visit Ashton Place with her new beau, an ex-Admiral who dreams of starting an Ostrich-racing business with the widow Ashton’s money.

Penelope suspects that the Admiral is bad news for the Ashtons, and devises a very unorthodox and supernatural solution…

Can Penelope prove to the Ashtons that the Admiral is not who he seems to be? Can she discover the real secret behind Lord Ashton’s full moon illness? And what about the strange origins of the incorrigible children?

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: the Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood,  is an amusing middle grade novel which is the first in a series of books. The writing is light and amusing, and this could be a good novel to read aloud to an elementary aged child. If you would like a darker twist on the Mary Poppins-like stories, then give this series a try.

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

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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

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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.

Desire Lines by Christina Baker Kline

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Kathryn Campbell is a grown woman, but she finds herself haunted by events from her teenage years. Her best friend Jennifer said goodbye to her at a campfire after graduation, and no one ever saw her again. Did she run away? Was she kidnapped, or worse, murdered? The mystery remains unsolved…Until Kathryn’s marriage falls apart and she finds herself living back at home with her mom, and seeing the same faces she once saw in her high school hallways. To make matters more complicated, the editor of the local newspaper asks her to write a freelance piece in tribute to her missing friend, in light of their ten year reunion in a matter of days.

Kathryn doesn’t want to stir things up or dredge up those old memories…Or does she? She finds herself pulled into a cyclone of tensions that she was too clueless to realize as a teen…And finally finding a challenge that she can’t back down from no matter how tempting it might be to do so.

I, personally, love this kind of books, in the vein of Emily Arsenault (or Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places), where someone is tracking the steps of someone who died or disappeared after the trail has run cold…Probably because I really adore anything related to cold case kinds of files and stories about killers who get justice long after the public has given up the chase. This novel was a decent read, although I have to admit I was occasionally confused by inconsistencies in the heroine’s behavior…Check it out for yourself and feel free to comment your thoughts, too.

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

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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.

Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley

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Flavia De Luce is back in this 5th novel in the Flavia De Luce series, which some of you may know is about a precocious young girl who is in love with crime solving and chemistry, and who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Historians are coming to Bishop’s Lacey to dig up the remains of a Saint who is buried there, and Flavia can’t stay away-of course, the dead body of a church member wasn’t something she was expecting to sight when they opened the tomb. A murderer is at large, quite possibly a church member she sees every sunday, and a stranger has come into town who shares her love of botany and detective work, and somehow knows her father from deep in his murky past.

Who is the killer? Is Bishop’s Lacey safe? Does the murderer have unfinished business? Strange things are happening about town, and strange characters are around every corner. With Flavia on the job, however, things are sure to sort themselves out in the most entertaining way possible.

These Alan Bradley novels are humorous and a little dark, and the cast of characters in the novels is rich and diverse, creating a novel full of entertainment that will entertain mystery-loving anglophiles world-wide. If you have read other novels of the Flavia De Luce series, the 5th installment, Speaking from Among the Bones will not disappoint. If you have not read the novels, you can definitely start them out of order, but I would recommend starting with the first novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and working your way through.