INVISIBLE CITY by Julia Dahl

Courtesy of Minotaur Books

Courtesy of Minotaur Books

Invisible City is about a journalist who discovers her family history by delving into the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community where her mother grew up. But Rebekah Roberts doesn’t start out looking for her past.  She is covering the news of a Hasidic woman’s murder, a tragedy that the private Brooklyn community would rather keep to themselves. Julia Dahl’s novel is supported by her knowledge of working in newspapers as well as her research of the Hasidim living in Brooklyn. Rebekah is straddling both worlds–on the one hand she wants to investigate this murder that is seemingly being swept under the rug, but in the process she is reminded of why her Jewish mother left her and her father, to return to the Orthodox way of life.

 

5 Reason to Read:

  1. Invisible City gives a small but compelling glimpse into the lives of the Hasidic women who care for their children, are devoutly religious, and have few opportunities.
  2. The details of working as a stringer as Rebekah Roberts does ring true–the waiting, the uncertainty, seeing your byline on a story you investigated but didn’t write–Dahl captures this well.
  3. Rebekah struggles with anxiety and depression while working on a  story that could make or break her career–she is a character who is real and flawed.
  4. You’ll learn a lot from reading this book, whether about journalism or Judaism. It is clear this is a well-researched novel.
  5. This is one of those mysteries that barrels along with such a force you’ll have to hold on, but at the same time it is perfectly paced and carefully written with great precision.

Keep reading…

Advertisements

A DARK AND TWISTED TIDE by Sharon Bolton

a dark and twisted tide

Courtesy of Macmillan

One of the best things about mysteries, in my opinion, is how they immerse you in the thick of a plot and pull you along.  All the details come together to reveal the stark reality, however gruesome it may be.  Sharon Bolton’s novel A Dark and Twisted Tide follows Lacey Flint, former London detective who rejoins the police force on the marine unit.  She is living in a boat on the river Thames and swimming in the river every morning, a dangerous and thrilling pastime.  The river is a powerful force and when Lacey finds a body in the water the question becomes: Was it purely a coincidence that a body comes floating towards Lacey or did someone want Lacey to find the decomposing body?

 

5 Reasons to Read:

  1. Lacey is a classic loner  with few friends, but people are drawn to her–even killers–and you will be too.
  2. The Thames is a charismatic and deadly character in this Lacey Flint installment–its dark waters are the perfect backdrop.
  3. Although all written in the third person, Bolton tells the story from the perspective of Lacey, Detective Inspector Dana Tulloch, and other more mysterious points of view like The Killer, The Swimmer, and Nadia and Pari, two women far from home. This allows for Bolton to reveal a wide range of details and events in a complex, but systematic way.
  4. Bolton’s prose is at times unhurried and expressive, at other times swift and vigorous, much like the tides.  Either way, you’ll be swept away by her writing.
  5. This is a book to savor and reread–even once the murderer is revealed you’ll want to go back and unravel the intricacies of the story.

Keep reading…

THE POCKET WIFE by Susan Crawford

pocket wife

Courtesy of William Morrow

I have reviewed a few suspenseful books here on Skyline Book Reviews, but they have all ended up being very different.  There was Crooked River about two young girls whose father is accused of murder.  Also, Big Little Lies about a death at a elementary school fundraiser in Australia.  And Tina Seskis’ One Step Too Far told the story of Emily who leaves her old life behind only to be propelled back into it after a tragic death.  Susan Crawford’s cerebral debut, The Pocket Wife, involves a murder in a suburb of Paterson, NJ and is no exception.

 

 

 

The siren is inside her ears, inside the car.  It screams and pries inside her brain.  She opens the car door and steps outside. She’s forgotten her shoes, but she can’t feel the pavement.  She’s so light her feet are barely touching down.  She looks out at the cars toward the Hudson, and it shimmers, it hums, it sings, eclipsing the sound of the siren with its lovely, lilting song.

 

5 Reasons to Read:

  1. Crawford’s main character, Dana Catrall, is captivating during her descent into a mental breakdown in the wake of the violent death of her neighbor.
  2. The detective investigating the murder, Jack Moss, is not typical law enforcement–his dedication to his job, his desire to help Dana, and the guilt motivating him to protect his son is very real and multi-faceted.
  3. Crawford’s lyrical and phenic writing delves into Dana’s psyche as she discovers clues that push her closer to the edge.
  4. Clues are pieced together while Detective Moss investigates and Dana racks her memory until ultimately the truth settles to the surface amidst a storm of lies.
  5. This murder mystery won’t disappoint when it comes to suspense and unexpected outcomes.

Keep Reading…

ONE STEP TOO FAR by Tina Seskis

one step too far

Courtesy of William Morrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you been searching for a story that is unsettling yet too gripping to put down since Gone Girl? Us too. Tina Seskis’ debut, originally published independently as an e-book in the UK, is what you’re looking for.

5 reasons to read:

1. Emily abandons her life in Manchester, England in the face of a horrific secret and becomes Cat, a London ad exec with a penchant for cocaine, champagne, and shop-lifting–Hello, London!
2.  Sounds melodramatic, you say? Seskis is skilled at rooting the story in the very real struggles of family life, jealousy, betrayal, and grief with characters to support a drama-filled plot.
3. Seskis delves into the lives of Emily/Cat, her twin sister Caroline, her parents Frances and Andrew, and Ben, the brokenhearted husband Emily leaves behind–recounting pivotal moments that propel the story.
4. We won’t give it away, but there is a heart-wrenching twist even we predicted wrong (and that’s saying a lot).
5. Seskis’ ability to zoom in on details and properly pull back when needed comes through to bring together a wonderfully unnerving story.

Keep Reading…

BIG LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty

We got this ARC at BEA this year.

We got this ARC at BEA this year.

It is even signed! Want my copy? Let me know in a comment!

Signed! Want my copy? Comment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At long last here is our follow-up to the recommendations about marriage and motherhood.  Interestingly, many of the same themes are paramount in Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies. Betrayal, violence, secrets, and the constant pressures women face as mothers, wives, and in their relationships with each other.

5 reasons to read:
1. Moriarty writes about suburban life in Australia and the struggles modern mothers face.
2. Except for a few g’day mate’s this novel could take place in any American town and US readers will have no trouble relating to the gossipy drama.
3. Moriarty’s characters are multidimensional–sure they worry about which designer stilettos to wear to “Kiss-and-Drop/Pickup”, but they are also fiercely protective of their friends and, most importantly, their children.
4. Murder at a school fundraiser is the outcome the plot is propelling towards, but the conclusion is one you won’t expect.
5. Some very gritty topics are addressed in a realistic way such as bullying and domestic violence. Keep reading…

What’s new: CROOKED RIVER by Valerie Geary

crooked river

Courtesy of William Morrow

This fall, we’re bringing to you our recs for the latest debuts  If you’re looking to take a foray into literary fiction this pick is tender, suspenseful, and crisply imagined. You’ll have no trouble getting into it, but here’s our advice: Read this book with the lights on and if you’re reading on the subway be careful because this is “miss-your-stop” good.

“The stars are so much brighter when you’re dead.  The dark, so much darker. The trees are whispering, but I do not feel any wind.  I want to feel the wind.”

 

 

5 reasons to read:

1. This book is so many things–a ghost story, family story, murder mystery–but mostly it is just plain masterful the way a river is strong and steady.
2. Told from sisters Sam and Ollie’s points of view, your heart will literally be racing by the end and tears may or may not be streaming down your face (guilty as charged).
3. The small town of Terrebonne, Oregon is the perfect backdrop for this story, with the distinctive river where Sam and Ollie find a dead body, the quiet meadow where their father lives in a teepee and keeps bees, and the town itself that seems to hold secrets for Sam and Ollie to uncover.
4. Geary’s debut novel is rhythmic, gripping, and raw. Just try to put it down.
5. This literary ghost story reminds us of The Lovely Bones or Beloved where the supernatural elements of the book are crucial to the story and propel the plot. Keep reading…