If there is one central message to “Sophie Last Seen” it was: grief has no timetable. Or at least, that was the message I took away from this raw tale of a mother’s unrelenting search for her missing daughter. The story focuses on the way grief, and the anxiety riddled feeling of not knowing whether you should mourn someone’s passing or never give up the search, changes people. The way it shapes them and how it can both destroy, and reinvent them. Jesse, at the start of the novel, is nearly destroyed by the lack of answers she has regarding Sophie’s disappearance. She constantly searches, turning herself into an alcoholic and a bit of a hoarder as she believes every little thing she finds is a clue as to what happened to Sophie and where she is. Sophie’s best friend, Star, is nearly crippled by her guilt and the thoughts of what could have happened to her best friend to the point where she is haunted by images of Sophie and turns to self-harm in order to banish the disturbing thoughts and images. Their grief, guilt, and destructive coping mechanisms are incredibly raw and they create a tangible ache in the reader, even if they haven’t experienced what these characters are going through. It’s definitely not a light read, but it is a powerful one.
“The Best Possible Angle” is a book full of suspense and classic “who done it” mystery vibes right from the start. Kendrick, the main character, is on the cusp of achieving his dreams, but then tragedy hits and keeps hitting, and the people around the burgeoning movie star quickly show their true colors. Everyone in Kendrick’s immediate circle has something to hide and gain, and as one secret leads to another, everyone starts threatening betrayal, and things, well, escalate. And come the end of the story, you wish more characters had been punished. The story starts with a gruesome murder that becomes clear as to whom died at around the 60% mark of the story, but that’s far from the only murder cover up going on in the book, and those get teased out well before that point.
Confession time: I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. A period piece novel set just after the Great War with some Downton Abbey society vibes, a murder mystery, oh and magic. Yes! Magic! “Magic Most Deadly” follows Maia and Lennox as they bump into each other at a roaring house party, only to stumble across a murder, a plot to bring Britain to its knees once more, and that not only is magic real, but it’s been working in the shadows to keep society from going off the rails for decades, if not more. Now Lennox, who was undercover to try and discover the plot Maia witnessed, finds himself partnered with the fledgling magician—who is also a fiercely independent woman who constantly keeps Lennox on his toes. The tone of the characters fits so flawlessly with the time period and setting that I was immediately swept away and ended up adoring these characters and the rather cozy mystery they embarked on, while also trying to teach Maia about magic—oh, and keep it a secret from everyone else, naturally.
“Dating a Chance” is a—extremely—literary work of mystery. Simply, the story is about the seemingly freakish deaths of a prominent scientist and a few people close to him shortly thereafter. J-L (yes, that is his name) was working on manipulating particles at a quantum level in order to create positive outcomes. Essentially: fabricating good luck and fortune (kind of Like the X-Force team member Domino). But his untimely death leaves the research almost lost, and while some of J-L’s colleagues begin hunting for his missing notes, others begin wondering if his random death was all that accidental, as those close to J-L also begin dying under mysterious circumstances as well. Professor Brown and his chess partner Steve begin the hunt for the truth in what is a high-brow and unique twist on a murder mystery novel. However, this interesting premise was often lost in the authors’ narration.
Don’t let the title fool you, “Girl in Disguise” is no where near the same genre of things like “Gone Girl” or “Girl on the Train” or “All the Missing Girls” –this is not a thriller. I don’t know when thrillers decided to go that route with titles, but this book is actually a historical fiction about the first female Pinkerton Detective, Kate Warne. Not much is actually known about Kate other than she was, indeed, the first female detective and she was hired by Pinkerton himself. There is speculation that she was a widow—something tragic and world altering must have occurred for a woman of her time to seek this kind of employment—and there were rumors she was having a long-term affair with Pinkerton, but none of this has been proven. There are also no verified pictures of her, which, as a spy, I’m sure the real-life Kate was happy for. This lack of substantiated information into Kate’s life allowed Macallister to have a great deal of freedom when writing Kate’s story, and she uses it to take the reader on a fun, historically accurate ride!
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