Lizzie Davis

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Becca, beautiful and brilliant, comes from an influential family with a predilection for law degrees. As a first-year law student at George Washington University, she feels the pressure from final exams—and from a weighted secret she’s been harboring. To get her head straight for exams, she heads to her parents’ summer home in the misty mountains of North Carolina, the perfect quiet place to collect her thoughts. She’s brutally assaulted and murdered before she ever gets the chance to take those exams.

Enter prominent investigative reporter Kelsey Castle, who is immediately intrigued by the case and by the tiny town of Summit Lake. For such a big thing to happen in a little town, there is an unusual absence of media buzz, only the murmuring of gossip at the local coffee collective. After learning that the local police force has been pulled from the case, Kelsey begins to question a cover-up, and her suspicions are further bolstered by the lackluster investigation from the county and a botched autopsy report.

Shocking revelations about Becca’s death parallel Kelsey’s own awful encounter only weeks before. This further drives Kelsey’s fervor to reveal the truth of Becca’s story, no matter the obstacles or dangers. The small amount of celebrity from Kelsey’s recently published book gains her favor from locals and helps her find the answers, but she doesn’t know that retracing the steps of the dead will ultimately resolve her own demons and help her come into a new life.

With a soaring pace and teasing plot twists, Charlie Donlea’s debut mystery is like a cool drink of water with a twist of lemon. It’s refreshing to find a book that has such a well-developed plot and excellent writing to back it up.

Becca, beautiful and brilliant, comes from an influential family with a predilection for law degrees. As a first-year law student at George Washington University, she feels the pressure from final exams—and from a weighted secret she’s been harboring. To get her head straight for exams, she heads to her parents’ summer home in the misty mountains of North Carolina, the perfect quiet place to collect her thoughts. She’s brutally assaulted and murdered before she ever gets the chance to take those exams.

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In 1952, Barcelona trembles beneath the oppressive, tyrannical regime of Franco’s fascist party. Ana Marti, a young journalist sick of detailing debutantes’ fashions and high-society scandals, gets her big break when socialite Mariona Sobrerroca is brutally murdered in the exclusive upper part of the city. Ana’s shocked to be assigned such an important case, but she holds her ground while working with Barcelona’s finest detective, Isidro Castro, despite his misogynistic grumblings about working with a woman.

The police announce that the murder was nothing more than an intruder and an incident of unfortunate timing. Ana concedes her curiosity—until she uncovers a bundle of love letters that insinuate a much different story. To meld the pieces of the real account together, Ana enlists the help of her languages-savvy cousin, Beatriz. Ana and Beatriz must tread lightly, as their family is already ill favored for their sympathy for the Republic, and Beatriz has even been ostracized for her writings. As they disentangle truth from lies to nullify the original statement, the two women expose political hypocrisy that will ultimately threaten their lives.

Rosa Ribas and Sabine Hoffman are the writing team behind the pseudonym Sara Moliner. Drawing from Ribas’ experiences of growing up in Francoist Spain and Hoffman’s education in philology, the two authors create a powerful voice that thunders with cultural wit and historical fact. Setting the scene takes a while, but the reader’s patience is rewarded as the historical-political plot sears with sensational revelations implicating the dictatorship’s influential leaders. This is Ribas and Hoffman’s first time working together and surely not to be their last, as The Whispering City is already highly acclaimed in Spain and has been translated into several languages.

In 1952, Barcelona trembles beneath the oppressive, tyrannical regime of Franco’s fascist party. Ana Marti, a young journalist sick of detailing debutantes’ fashions and high-society scandals, gets her big break when socialite Mariona Sobrerroca is brutally murdered in the exclusive upper part of the city. Ana’s shocked to be assigned such an important case, but she holds her ground while working with Barcelona’s finest detective, Isidro Castro, despite his misogynistic grumblings about working with a woman.

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In Art in the Blood, author Bonnie MacBird revives the favored and famous detective Sherlock Holmes and the indispensable, recently married Dr. Watson.

In the aftermath of the Ripper cases, Holmes is riddled with defeat and has regressed to his old cocaine addiction. But when a mysterious perfumed letter arrives addressed to Holmes, along with the happenstantial news of the Greek Nike statue's baffling disappearance, he's soon up to his old tricks of disguise and inquiry. This complicated case has Holmes and Watson tearing through the streets of London and caught in the shadowed corners of Paris’ elicit cabarets, where the absinthe might put you in a daze but isn't nearly as hallucinogenic as the seductive chanteuses serenading from the stage.

Art in the Blood blends the industrial and archaeological developments of the late 1800s with the avant-garde urbanity that tipped the scale and poured life into a booming 20th century. MacBird illustrates the energy leading up to the turn of the century, giving the reader a tantalizing taste of the art and sensuality that defined Bohemian culture, set in high contrast to the seedy side of industrialization and its exploitation of child labor and the corruption of money. And weaving in and out of all this chaos is Holmes, with his astute, hypersensitive observations and clever, sharp-tongued witticisms that only get him in trouble. This is a smashing, fast-paced page-turner that shines.

In Art in the Blood, author Bonnie MacBird revives the favored and famous detective Sherlock Holmes and the indispensable, recently married Dr. Watson.

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For some college is about fresh starts, new friends and big adventures. When Chad wants to make the most of his time abroad at Oxford, he befriends Jolyon, a jovial, well-liked first-year student. The two share great camaraderie, and together they design an innocent game meant to mimic the inherent risks and consequences of life. Needing six to realize the game, they invite four others to participate with an enticing reward.

But those closest to you have the ability to use your greatest fear against you, and this harmless game of dares and consequences evolves into psychological warfare, and after a horrifying incident, The Game is suspended.

Now, 14 years later, The Game resumes. This lapse in time was enough for the players to mend from the psychological stress—except for Jolyon, whose neurosis immobilizes him into a shuddering recluse, damaging his love life and career and impairing the simplest of everyday physical activities such as dressing, eating and going outside. Now that The Game has even higher stakes, Jolyon sets out to retell the story of his first year at Oxford so he can get the story straight and get his life back. More than just a fable of his youthful follies with friends, his story holds secrets unknown to the final players—but they have hidden confidences, too.

Christopher J. Yates shines with his first book, Black Chalk, a grippingly dark narrative set in 1990s Oxford and present-day New York. Yates creates calculated threads, knotted with friendship and romance, and slowly reveals frightening character traits for a thrilling read. One question will remain with readers: What do your friends know about you, and how far would they take that truth?

For some college is about fresh starts, new friends and big adventures. When Chad wants to make the most of his time abroad at Oxford, he befriends Jolyon, a jovial, well-liked first-year student. The two share great camaraderie, and together they design an innocent game meant to mimic the inherent risks and consequences of life. Needing six to realize the game, they invite four others to participate with an enticing reward.

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A powerful read from an impressive new voice, Freedom’s Child is an intricate portrait of a crass, swears-like-a-sailor woman who has lost everything and is fueled by an unabated fervor to find her daughter.

Contrary to her name, Freedom feels trapped, even though she’s on the other side of the country and a decade removed from her former life. Labeled as the promiscuous town drunk in a small Oregon community, she finds herself waxing in and out of suicidal thoughts. This isn’t what she wanted for her life, but it’s what she was assigned by the Witness Protection detail. The alcohol and self-inflicted psychological abuse serve as her own punishment for letting her life get so lurid.

Freedom’s shaken from this sluggish state when she hears news of Michael Delaney’s release from jail—and then silence from her estranged daughter’s Facebook page. She has to find her daughter before they do—the Delaney Boys, those Mastic Beach miscreants, her brothers-in-law. They’re out to get Freedom any way they can, because of what she did or what she was accused of, and what she would gladly let happen again if given the chance: the murder of her husband. Thus begins Freedom’s cross-country road trip to redemption and to clear the debt she’s harbored for 20 years. Along the way she encounters new and old friends who help her discover the person she should have been all this time.

Visceral and brazen, Jax Miller’s debut is an engrossingly raw exposé of one woman’s reparation, knotted with storylines from the dirty underbelly of biker bars, Native American legends, religious cults and one shocking plot twist you’ll never see coming. Congratulations to Miller for a standout first novel. You’ll read nothing like it!

A powerful read from an impressive new voice, Freedom’s Child is an intricate portrait of a crass, swears-like-a-sailor woman who has lost everything and is fueled by an unabated fervor to find her daughter.

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While away on duty, Army Ranger Van Shaw receives a chilling note from his grandfather: “Come home, if you can.” The last time the two talked was 10 years ago—a conversation that resulted in a bloody brawl. Pride and stubbornness run strong in this family, so for the old man to reach out means there’s something big happening back home.

Van had prepared himself for the estranged exchange waiting for him, but not for what he finds: his grandfather with a gunshot wound to the head, bleeding out on the floor. As the first person on the scene and in light of their complicated relationship, Van knows he’s suspect number one. To clear his name and obtain retribution, Van must return to his illicit past as a kid criminal and exploit his grandfather’s exceptional career as a professional thief. With the cops questioning his every move, Van takes to the streets to seek answers from his grandfather’s cronies. But this is not without a price—Van has worked his way up the army ranks, and one wrong move could cost him his status or his life.

Glen Erik Hamilton’s impressive debut novel fuses procedural plotting, vigilantism and noir. The seedy setting and one man’s hunt for justice create an emotionally stirring and morally ambiguous read. Past Crimes keeps readers on edge and second-guessing every character, and when that last page is turned, one question remains: Will Van return to the life he labored so hard to forget? It will have to be answered in the much-anticipated second installment in this clever, intoxicating series.

While away on duty, Army Ranger Van Shaw receives a chilling note from his grandfather: “Come home, if you can.” The last time the two talked was 10 years ago—a conversation that resulted in a bloody brawl. Pride and stubbornness run strong in this family, so for the old man to reach out means there’s something big happening back home.

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“When you stopped trying to be one perfect person, you could be many.” A small-town Tennessee girl flourishes into a classic, yet never cliché, femme fatale in Rebecca Scherm’s provocative coming-of-age debut, Unbecoming.

Grace had her siren song down to the perfect ringing notes: prim cardigans, sweet smiles and a melodic laugh capable of enticing anyone. This pristine exterior did well to hide her poor and neglected upbringing, and she fooled even herself—but throughout life and love Grace realized her hands have been too often taunted to touch and possess what is not hers. Perhaps some of us are just born bad, despite all efforts to dispel the wicked. When an art heist goes awry, Grace embraces her darker side and transforms to protect herself. At every new job and in every new city, she’s someone new, her identity stunningly ambiguous. She can never again be “Grace.”

With a well-researched plot and illuminating prose, Unbecoming delivers a character that does and does not evoke sympathy. Grace is slippery, cunning and complex as she evolves into a highbrow jewel bandit living off the grid. Just as she does for herself, Grace remakes the jewelry into something unrecognizable, taking stones from this one and replacing them from that one.

From the high-end art world of New York to the dusty basement of an antiques dealer in France, Unbecoming is an atmospheric adventure from start to finish.

“When you stopped trying to be one perfect person, you could be many.” A small-town Tennessee girl flourishes into a classic, yet never cliché, femme fatale in Rebecca Scherm’s provocative coming-of-age debut, Unbecoming.

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Celebrated Japanese author Keigo Higashino makes his authorial power internationally known with Malice, the latest installment in his mystery series featuring police detective Kyochiro Kaga. This well-crafted dual narrative will entice and perhaps even outwit the most seasoned mystery readers.

This time Kaga finds himself on the case of a well known novelist, Kunihiko Hidaka, who was found murdered in his study by his wife and his best friend the night before his departure to Vancouver. The victim’s former best friend happens to be Osamu Nonoguchi, Kaga’s former colleague from his time as a public school teacher prior to joining the force.

Kaga is relentless in his search for Hidaka’s murderer, but there are key evidentiary elements that don’t add up for it to be as one-and-done as a break and entry gone awry. On a hunch he targets Nonoguchi, despite his vetted alibi, but does not have hard evidence to link him to the case—yet. Kaga’s persistency and detective precision in his search to expose the truth is exhaustive, and has him digging back so far as to uproot past unpleasantries such as middle school bullying practices and to question the supposed friendship between Hidaka and Nonoguchi.

This astute read is methodically constructed and will continuously challenge and enchant readers through strategic layering and its calculated release of critical information. Malice exhibits how the smallest seed of dislike can manifest into sinister, unjustified hatred. Someone who shares a smile with you could be plotting your demise.

Celebrated Japanese author Keigo Higashino makes his authorial power internationally known with Malice, the latest installment in his mystery series featuring police detective Kyochiro Kaga. This well-crafted dual narrative will entice and perhaps even outwit the most seasoned mystery readers.

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M.P. Cooley’s first novel Ice Shear is a solid, convincing mystery set in the snowy shadows of Hopewell Falls, New York. The story follows June Lyons, a former FBI agent who traded her big badge for the life of a small-town police officer to care for her sick husband, who has since passed. In an attempt to spend more time with her daughter and to fall in better with the police force, she volunteers for the graveyard shift. Her nights pass with no more excitement than driving drunks home and buying doughnuts for the morning shift.

The dear old town of Hopewell Falls is similar to Mayberry, until one night June finds a body of a celebrated congresswoman’s daughter impaled on icy shears that web the bottom of a frozen waterfall. The damage to the body indicates the girl died before the fall, but it’s only after another bloody body connected to the victim turns up that the case escalates into the murder mystery of the century and exposes the corrupt underbelly of a town laced with meth.

This pleasurable police procedural takes a while to pick up and does a fair job of telling Lyons’ side story as the main plotline progresses. Be patient, though—it’s worth the wait, as the story’s originality keeps readers engaged. When do you ever have a perilous biker gang showdown against a congresswoman who is in line for the vice presidency? Perhaps a trained mystery reader can see through the whodunit veil, but Cooley does an excellent job of taking readers through enough twists and turns that you’ll likely be guessing until the very end.

M.P. Cooley’s first novel Ice Shear is a solid, convincing mystery set in the snowy shadows of Hopewell Falls, New York. The story follows June Lyons, a former FBI agent who traded her big badge for the life of a small-town police officer to care for her sick husband, who has since passed. In an attempt to spend more time with her daughter and to fall in better with the police force, she volunteers for the graveyard shift. Her nights pass with no more excitement than driving drunks home and buying doughnuts for the morning shift.

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In his first novel, The String Diaries, British author Stephen Lloyd Jones has created both an innovative storyline and a new creature to fear. The secret to overcoming this monster lies within one family’s weathered, string-tied diaries, which contain meticulously compiled stories, research and theories. But what is it that hunts this family, and why?

Jones imagines a fantastical subset of humans, inspired by Hungarian folklore: the hosszú életek, the “long-lived” ones, who are able to take on the appearance of any individual they please. For three centuries, Hannah Wilde’s ancestors have been sought by Jakab, a degenerate hosszú életek, whose twisted passion quickly led to an abject obsession with the women in Hannah’s family. Now he is fixated on her. Hannah must face this ancient evil or risk losing the love of her life and their daughter. She must use her family’s diaries as a survival guide, learning to trust no one, to verify everyone and, if ever compromised, to run. But with Jakab’s ability to take on the appearance and mannerisms of those she loves, will she have the resilience to make the correct decision?

The String Diaries is a phenomenal read, offering readers a refreshing villain and a thrilling narrative laced with the Gothic: a woman being chased by a tyrannical male of supernatural ability in uninhabited places. Jones dazzles in his ability to make his characters' raw nerves so palpable, the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. The mounting tension throughout the novel is methodically woven through the centuries and the generations, bound together until the final pages. This book will have readers engrossed from start to finish, and hungry for more of Jones’ work.

In his first novel, The String Diaries, British author Stephen Lloyd Jones has created both an innovative storyline and a new creature to fear. The secret to overcoming this monster lies within one family’s weathered, string-tied diaries, which contain meticulously compiled stories, research and theories. But what is it that hunts this family, and why?

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With his new historical spy novel Midnight in Europe, celebrated author Alan Furst brilliantly illuminates an era on edge, during the troubled time preceding World War II, when a dark cloud of civil unrest and war slowly begins to envelop Europe.

Furst’s cast of characters is an amalgam of backgrounds, from gangsters to aristocrats, all bystanders that are pulled into the fray: slipping notes, trading secrets and doing whatever else it takes to stay at the forefront of the rat race. One such person is Spanish émigré Cristián Ferrar, who has adapted to life in Paris as a successful international lawyer, and recently turned spy for the Spanish Republic. Thinking his involvement will be confined to the Paris Front, Ferrar soon finds himself gunrunning across Europe with arms merchant Max de Lyon. Furst compellingly illustrates Ferrar’s clandestine exploits across Nazi-sodden Germany, the shipyards of Poland and even as far-reaching as the brothels in Istanbul. Sexual appetite aside, Ferrar’s hesitancy to play hero is endearing. He feels a certain level of responsibility, but is unsure of his ability to change the course of history, which the reader knows all too well.

Whether it is your first or fifth encounter with Alan Furst, Midnight in Europe is a captivating recreation of the late 1930s. Though fans of Furst might question yet another pre-World War II novel, his mastery of the era lends the narrative highly authentic imagery. As soon as readers open the book, they will find themselves submerged into the exotic life of espionage and the spiraling fight against the Fascist and Nazi factions that permeated Europe.

With his new historical spy novel Midnight in Europe, celebrated author Alan Furst brilliantly illuminates an era on edge, during the troubled time preceding World War II, when a dark cloud of civil unrest and war slowly begins to envelop Europe.

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