One of the thrills I get via bloggers, Facebook and Twitter is the ongoing exchange of what books to read and which authors to friend and follow. I enjoy reading their writing trials and tribulations; their research discoveries—some pertinent to their stories and some simply verging into Bizarro World; their “I still can’t believe this has happened to me” updates, as well as their personal observations about their children, diets, politics, and whatever catches their fancy on any particular day. But apart from being so approachable via social media, these ladies know how to write page turners. The books listed below are the ones that introduced me to these wonderful writers.
The Kingdom of Childhood, by Rebeca Coleman
The Kingdom of Childhood is the story of a boy and a woman: sixteen-year-old Zach Patterson, uprooted and struggling to reconcile his knowledge of his mother’s extramarital affair, and Judy McFarland, a kindergarten teacher watching her family unravel before her eyes. Thrown together to organize a fundraiser for their failing private school and bonded by loneliness, they begin an affair that at first thrills, then corrupts each of them. Judy sees in Zach the elements of a young man she loved as a child, but what Zach does not realize is that their relationship is—for Judy—only the latest in a lifetime of disturbing secrets. An emotionally tense, increasingly chilling work of fiction set in the controversial Waldorf school community, it is equal parts enchanting and unsettling and is sure to be a much-discussed and much-debated novel.
Ghost on Black Mountain, Ann Hite
Nellie Clay married Hobbs Pritchard without even noticing he was a spell conjured into a man, a walking, talking ghost story. But her mama knew. She saw it in her tea leaves: death. Folks told Nellie to get off the mountain while she could, to go back home before it was too late. Hobbs wasn’t nothing but trouble. He’d even killed a man. No telling what else. That mountain was haunted, and soon enough, Nellie would feel it too. One way or another, Hobbs would get what was coming to him. The ghosts would see to that. . . .
Told in the stunning voices of five women whose lives are inextricably bound when a murder takes place in rural Depression-era North Carolina, Ann Hite’s unforgettable debut spans generations and conjures the best of Southern folk-lore—mystery, spirits, hoodoo, and the incomparable beauty of the Appalachian landscape.
The Taker, by Alma Katsu
On the midnight shift at a hospital in rural Maine, Dr. Luke Findley is expecting another quiet evening of frostbite and the occasional domestic dispute. But the minute Lanore McIlvrae—Lanny—walks into his ER, she changes his life forever. A mysterious woman with a past and plenty of dark secrets, Lanny is unlike anyone Luke has ever met. He is inexplicably drawn to her . . . despite the fact that she is a murder suspect with a police escort. And as she begins to tell her story, a story of enduring love and consummate betrayal that transcends time and mortality, Luke finds himself utterly captivated.
Her impassioned account begins at the turn of the nineteenth century in the same small town of St. Andrew, Maine, back when it was a Puritan settlement. Consumed as a child by her love for the son of the town’s founder, Lanny will do anything to be with him forever. But the price she pays is steep—an immortal bond that chains her to a terrible fate for all eternity. And now, two centuries later, the key to her healing and her salvation lies with Dr. Luke Findley.
Part historical novel, part supernatural page-turner, The Taker is an unforgettable tale about the power of unrequited love not only to elevate and sustain, but also to blind and ultimately destroy, and how each of us is responsible for finding our own path to redemption.
Law of Attraction, by Allison Leotta
As a newly minted Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., Anna Curtis has already developed thick skin to deal with the brutality she encounters with her daily stack of domestic violence cases. Yet when Laprea Johnson walks into Anna’s life—battered by her boyfriend on the morning after Valentine’s Day—there’s something about this particular case that Anna can’t quite shake, something that reminds the prosecutor of her own troubled past.
At the trial, Laprea makes a last-minute reversal, lying on the witness stand to free her boyfriend. Shortly after he is freed, Anna is horrified to hear that Laprea’s body has been found in a trash heap. Hastily assigned to prosecute the murder case alongside intimidating chief homicide prosecutor Jack Bailey, Anna’s heart sinks when she learns that her own boyfriend, public defender Nick Wagner, is representing the accused.
Torn between bringing the killer to justice and saving her personal life, Anna makes a series of choices that jeopardizes her career, her relationships, and her very life as she uncovers the shocking truth behind the murder.
Weaving expert knowledge with deft storytelling, federal sex-crimes prosecutor and Harvard Law School graduate Allison Leotta takes readers on a thrilling ride through D.C.’s criminal justice system. From the back rooms of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the flirtations and machinations of Washington’s Ivy League lawyers to the struggles of its poorest citizens on the gritty streets of Anacostia, Law of Attraction is a gripping debut from an exciting new talent.
Random Violence, by Jassy Mackenzie
In Johannesburg prosperous whites live in gated communities; when they exit their cars to open the gates, car-jackings are common. But seldom is the victim killed, much less shot twice, like Annette Botha. Piet Botha, the husband of the wealthy woman, is the primary suspect in his wife’s murder.
P.I. Jade de Jong fled South Africa ten years ago after her father was killed. Now back in town, she offers to help her father’s former assistant, Superintendent David Patel, with his investigation of this case. Under apartheid, Patel, of Indian descent, could never have attained his present position. But he is feeling pressure from his “old line” oss with respect to this investigation and fears lingering prejudice is at work.
As Jade probes into this and other recent car-jacking cases, a pattern begins to emerge, a pattern that goes back to her father’s murder and that involves a vast and intricate series of crimes for profit.