The Death of Bees and Shadowkiller Thursday, Mar 21 2013 

Two new Harper imprints to tell readers about.

First up is the highly unusual debut novel of Lisa O’Donnell, The Death of Bees.images_011 O’Donnell’s screenwriting background gives the novel a visual immediacy of the dramatic action as it unfolds that will draw readers in to this story.

This novel is told in rotating narratives, starting with that of fifteen year-old Marnie and her younger sister, Nelly, with their distinctive voices describing their personalities and actions and reactions.

The book opens on Christmas Eve in Glasgow’s Maryhill housing estate, and the girls’ have just finished burying their parents. “Neither of them were beloved,” Marnie tells us.

In their narrative we learn that Izzy and Gene were far from the best parents, negligent and abusive. Marnie’s goal becomes to secretly take care of Nelly without them entering the foster system. Once she turns sixteen she will be legally be allowed to care for them both. There is a mystery surrounding the death of Gene, although their mother has committed suicide, that hangs over this year’s events.

Then their gay neighbor, Lennie, notices the parents’ absence. Grieving over the loss of his own partner, his voice is added to the mix, and the story of the unlikely trio unfolds. Lennie becomes the lynchpin in their little unit, cooking for the sisters, doing their wash, keeping them safe from the system by showing up at Parents Night pretending to be their grandfather.

An unlikely friend, Vlad, also coping with his own grief, is added to their mix, and adds to the affecting nature of the story.

Marnie’s story is that her parents have left them in Lennie’s care to travel to Turkey. But deals Gene has made before his death soon unravel that lie, and one lie leads to another, until the day the sisters’ real grandfather shows up on their doorstep, demanding to know where his daughter has gone.

The characters are gritty and real, with all the flaws humans possess, and with an added dark humor that will have you rooting for these girls.

This is a most unlikely family story that is oddly compelling, as it addresses just what family means and what lengths those who love us will go to in order to protect us.

 

images_005Next up is the third in Wendy Corsi Staub’s trilogy featuring Allison Taylor, Shadowkiller. 

Allison has had to live through the tragedy of 9/11 while fighting a serial killer in Nightwatcher; but that led to her meeting her future husband, Mac MacKenna. In Sleepwalker, set a decade later, terror entered Allison’s life once again, threatening her family, now expanded to include three young children, in their suburban home.

Just when Allison and Mac should be able to take a deep breath, a predator will again enter their life.

A stranger’s death in the Caribbean leads to the string of events that seem far unrelated to Allison, yet will prove threatening and connected.

Memories of Allison’s troubled childhood bring back that threat as the MacKenna’s travel to the Midwest for a family reunion with Allison’s half-brother and his family.

A madwoman from Allison’s past, with ties to Mac, has bided her time to seek revenge on Allison, at one point staying next door to their Westchester home and watching the family’s every move as they prepare to take off on what should be a relaxing vacation. Tapping into their wireless network, the killer knows every move Allison and Mac have planned, and will stop at nothing to bring off the plan she’s hatched to kidnap and eventually murder Allison.

Several key characters of the series return, and readers who have followed the books will be surprised at the twist that opens the novel when the identity of the killer is revealed.

Fast-paced and filled with suspense, readers have been anticipating this final installment in the trilogy.

Denise Mina: The End of the Wasp Season Sunday, Nov 20 2011 

Ian Rankin calls fellow Scot Denise Mina: “The most exciting crime writer to have emerged in Britain in years.” Readers of Auntie M will know that she follows Mina’s crime novels, from her stand alones to her Paddy Meehan series. With a law degree in her pocket, Mina also writes short stories, has authored a play, and is a regular contributor to TV and radio.

Mina is back with a new protagonist, as original as any of her others. DS Alex Morrow is pregnant with twins when she catches a murder case that will send shock waves through the wealthy suburb of Glasgow where the victim lived. It will also touch Morrow’s personal life and impact her career as she tries to keep her own ghosts at bay.

Sarah Erroll had taken exceptional care of her ailing mother until the woman’s recent death, providing round-the-clock care in the home Joy Erroll loved. When Sarah is found brutally murdered at the bottom of the stairs of that home, it appears to be a vicious but random attack. Then Morrow listens to the recording made when Sarah tried to call 999 and hears her tell one of her murderers: “I know you.” The case is further complicated when stacks of cash are found hidden under the kitchen table, totaling close to $700,ooo Euros. What was the source of Erroll’s money? Who knew about it?

In a seemingly unrelated event in Kent, millionaire banker Lars Anderson hangs himself from the oak tree standing on the sacred lawn of his mansion. Under investigation for fraudulent business practices that have left his clients destitute, his death is seen by many as a penance for his lifetime self-serving attitude, a just decision in a world damaged by ever-widening recession. Although left in financial straits, his deeply damaged family mostly feel  a sense of release at his death. But just how damaged are they?

Stonewalled by DCI Bannerman, a man who’s learned how to turn rudeness into an art form, it will be up to Morrow to sort out the tangled web that connects both deaths. Travel to London follows as Morrow begins to unravel the threads that will lead to a shattering resolution.

This is a complex and multilayered novel, full of plot turns, with Mina illustrating a deft rendering of the complicated emotions of the people in the book’s world. This talent makes her characters eminently human, and her novels are ones easily gobbled up as the pages turn.

 

 

Lee Lofland

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Lee Lofland

The Graveyard Shift

S L Hollister, author

Welcome to Leeward

Liz Loves Books

The Wonderful World of Reading

The Life of Guppy

the care and feeding of our little fish

dru's book musings

Reading is a wonderful adventure!

JoHanna Massey

"I tramp the perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

MiddleSisterReviews.com

(mid'-l sis'-tǝr) n. the reader's favorite sister

My train of thoughts on...

Smile! Don't look back in anger.

K.R. Morrison, Author

My author site--news and other stuff about books and things

The Wickeds

Wicked Good Mysteries

John Bainbridge Writer

Indie Writer and Publisher

Some Days You Do ...

Writers & Writing, my own & other people's; movies, art, music & the search for a perfect flat white - the bits & pieces of a writing life.

Gaslight Crime

Authors and reviewers of historical crime fiction

Crimezine

#1 for Crime

Mellotone70Up

John Harvey on Books & Writing - his own & other people 's - Art, Music, Movies, & the elusive search for the perfect Flat White.

A thrilling Murder-Mystery...

...now being made into a radio drama

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews