Sunday, June 02, 2024

May 2024 Additions to My Digital Security Blanket


I didn't manage to keep my book-buying wallet shut during the month of May, but I didn't go hog wild either. May seems to be a month equally divided between tried-and-true authors and new-to-me authors that I am very curious about. I've already read one of the new-to-me writers with very positive results, and I hope my experience is the same with the other.

But enough dancing around the mulberry bush-- let me start telling you about the books I couldn't resist last month. I've grouped them by genre, and if you click on the link in each book title, you'll be taken to Amazon US where you can learn more about it.

=== Fiction ===

Synopsis: "A Navy captain near the end of a decorated career, Stephen Rensselaer is disciplined, intelligent, and determined to always do what’s right. In defending the development of a new variant of warship, he makes an enemy of the president of the United States, who assigns him to command the doomed line’s only prototype––Athena, Patrol Coastal 15––with the intent to humiliate a man who should have been an admiral.
Rather than resign, Rensselaer takes the new assignment in stride, and while supervising
Athena’s fitting out in New Orleans, encounters a brilliant lawyer, Katy Farrar, with whom he falls in last-chance love. Soon thereafter, he is deployed on a mission that subjects his integrity, morality, and skill to the ultimate test, and ensures that Athena will live forever in the annals of the Navy.
As in the
Odyssey, Katy is the force that keeps him alive and the beacon that lights the way home through seven battles, mutiny, and court martial. In classic literary form, an enthralling new novel that extolls the virtues of living by the laws of conscience, decency, and sacrifice, The Oceans and the Stars is nothing short of a masterpiece.

♦ I am familiar with Helprin, and there's something about the synopsis (perhaps due to all the Navy men in my family?) that made me take advantage of a sale. We'll see what happens!
=== Amateur Sleuth ===
Synopsis: "Jo Jones has always had a little trouble fitting in. As a neurodivergent, hyperlexic book editor and divorced New Yorker transplanted into the English countryside, Jo doesn’t know what stands out more: her Americanisms or her autism.

After losing her job, her mother, and her marriage all in one year, she couldn’t be happier to take possession of a possibly haunted (and clearly unwanted) family estate in North Yorkshire. But when the body of the moody town groundskeeper turns up on her rug with three bullets in his back, Jo finds herself in potential danger—and she’s also a potential suspect. At the same time, a peculiar family portrait vanishes from a secret room in the manor, bearing a strange connection to both the dead body and Jo’s mysterious family history.

With the aid of a Welsh antiques dealer, the morose local detective, and the Irish innkeeper’s wife, Jo embarks on a mission to clear herself of blame and find the missing painting, unearthing a slew of secrets about the town—and herself—along the way. And she’ll have to do it all before the killer strikes again…

♦ So many things I like were mentioned in this synopsis that I simply could not resist. I've already read it and enjoyed it a great deal. (Review coming in the future.) I was very happy to see that this seems to be the start of a new series. I like Jo Jones so much that I want to see her again.

=== Thriller ===

Synopsis: "When her husband, Trent, dies in a car accident, shy and agoraphobic Trudi Adamson is unprepared to face the world. She has no choice. After twenty-five years of marriage, she’s just discovered that her life has been a lie. Despite Trent’s prosperous career he’s left Trudi penniless. He’d quit his job without telling her, maintained a rural hideaway, had a possible lover in Vienna, a Swiss bank account, and traveled the world under numerous aliases. But Trudi’s not the only one following a dead man’s trail. So are Trent’s dangerous enemies. Both hunter and hunted, Trudi must go from timid and terrorized mouse to fearless investigator if she’s to discover the truth in the deadly shadows of her husband’s secret life.

♦ Hill is known for his Dalziel & Pascoe series, but I've been content to watch the TV series that was based on those books. However, I have really enjoyed some of his standalones, and this was written under his pen name of Patrick Ruell. Another case of a tried-and-true author combined with a synopsis that grabbed me.

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. Set in England.
Synopsis: "Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.

♦ I heard a lot about this book when it was first released, but I decided to leave it alone. However, I seem to be on a kick where I want to read books set in places I'm familiar with-- especially now when it seems that my traveling days are over. I fondly remember the day I spent wandering around Cambridge, which is where The Maidens is set, the story does sound intriguing, and the price was right... Sold!

=== Historical Mystery ===

Synopsis: "One summer night in 1930, Judge Joseph Crater steps into a New York City cab and is never heard from again. Behind this great man are three women, each with her own tale to tell: Stella, his fashionable wife, the picture of propriety; Maria, their steadfast maid, indebted to the judge; and Ritzi, his showgirl mistress, willing to seize any chance to break out of the chorus line.

As the twisted truth emerges, Ariel Lawhon’s wickedly entertaining debut mystery transports us into the smoky jazz clubs, the seedy backstage dressing rooms, and the shadowy streets beneath the Art Deco skyline.

♦ Lawhon's most recent book, The Frozen River, is firmly planted on my Best Reads of 2024 list, so when this synopsis intrigued me and I saw that it was written by her, I just had to take advantage of the sale.

Have you read any of these? Or... did I tempt you to add any to your own lists? Which ones? Inquiring minds would love to know!


  1. Wow, more books to read, review and your readers to find more books. (sigh) I'm interested in your take on The Maidens. I thought Michaelades The Silent Patient was the best psychological thriller I ever read. We'll see if this one lives up to that. Glad to see Ariel Lawton published another book. I'm awaiting her first from the library. Never at a loss of what to read at all, always so much.

    1. I like the idea that we'll never run out of something to read.

    2. I'm imagining all of us surrounded by books, almost like the poor Collier brothers who hoarded papers; one was found under some. There are more books being published now than in years, hundreds a week in every genre. Happy reading!

    3. Reading is my safety valve.

  2. You've got some nice choices here, Cathy. I'm always happy to read a Reginald Hill, so it was nice to see that one here. And I'm glad you liked The Framed Women..., because I'd like to read that one, too. I look forward to your review of it.

  3. What a fun variety of books! They all look good...but I'm especially intrigued by Death of a Dormouse.

    1. I'm definitely looking forward to that one.

  4. Interesting choices, especially the "navy book." Mark Helprin's name was annoyingly familiar to me because I couldn't figure out why. I looked him up and can't remember ever really be exposed to him before, so I'm still bewildered. But he sounds interesting and the book certainly does, so I've ended up curious to know more. Still wish I could figure out if there's someone else by the same name I'm thinking of...

    1. I remember him making a big noise with his first book, Winter's Tale.

  5. The Framed Women does sound good, so I've added it to my list. I'll be curious about the Helprin book, when you get to it; I enjoy maritime nonfiction but haven't tried much in the way of novels around the topic, so I'm curious.

    1. Same here. The only maritime fiction I've read is Joan Druett's Wiki Coffin historical series, which I really enjoy. (Making mental note to get back to that series...)

    2. Yes. Agree. Choosing the next book is my current dilemma.

    3. I don't have that problem at the moment. I have a stack of ARCs to read.


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