1. Not A Happy Family by Shari Lapena
When a wealthy couple is found murdered in their home, suspicion falls on their three children. None of them liked their dad, all of them inherited millions, and each of them had a reason to want them dead. I liked the majority of the book. It was a good mystery. I never figured out who did it. It was another story where the problem for many of the characters would have disappeared if they had not lied constantly. No one is likable. The story does have an underwhelming resolution. It kind of ruined an otherwise decent mystery.
2. False Witness by Karen Slaughter
This is one I almost stopped before I even started when it was apparent that the author was going to weave Covid into the story. Covid is stressful enough in real life, I don’t need it in my thrillers. I decided to keep reading because the book had good reviews. Leigh is a defense attorney in Atlanta. Her firm is hired to defend a wealthy man accused of rape who has specifically asked for Leigh to be his attorney. It turns out Leigh knows the man and he knows her. He also knows the secret Leigh has been running from since she was a teen. Leigh has to reconnect with her drug-addicted younger sister Callie to work together to keep the secret hidden and protect her family.
This could have been so much better. Instead, it was too long, partly because the author took up space to add Covid to various scenes, including mention of who was or was not wearing a mask and who was wearing it incorrectly. The villains were cartoonish. Leigh was not a great main character. It was disappointing and I kind of wish I had stopped reading as soon as I saw she planned to make it a Covid era story.
3. Golden Arm by Carl Deuker
Laz Weathers is a senior in high school. He lives in a trailer park and goes to high school in the “bad” part of town. He is also a baseball player with the talent to go pro. The new principal at his school drops the baseball program at the same time his trailer park is bought by a developer and they have to move. Laz’s talent is noticed by a booster at a school in the wealthy part of town and he is offered the chance to move in with the family and pitch for one of the best teams in the state.
I’ve always been a sucker for an inspirational sports story and Deuker is one of the best at writing YA sports stories. This was a nice, quick read. Laz was a great character. The baseball parts are well written. None of the characters read like the stereotypical villain you sometimes find in these stories. I didn’t even mind the typical Hollywood happy ending.
Good for middle school and up. Great book for reluctant reader boys who like sports.
4. The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch
Shannon Moss is part of a secret division of NCIS assigned to investigate the brutal murder of a family. Moss and the suspect are both part of a secret program that has discovered the ability to travel to the future. The suspect was presumed dead when his ship disappeared on a mission to the future. Moss travels to the future to gather information on the case to save the one possible survivor of the murder. She discovers the murder is connected to the looming end of the world the time travelers have discovered. It was a very interesting book. I enjoyed the story and it mostly kept me interested. I think it was a little long and sometimes got too bogged down in the details of the time travel.
5. Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead
I stumbled across this one as part of the 7 day checkout/no renewal collection at my local library and grabbed it. This meant it had to be my next book even though I now realize I needed something lighter after the above sci-fi book. The book centers on Ray Carney, a furniture salesman who also dabbles in moving stolen property in late 50’s/early 60’s New York. Ray considers himself slightly bent, not crooked, but keeps getting drawn into the criminal world by his cousin Freddie. Whitehead is a great writer and that doesn’t change here, but it was a challenge for me to read more than a couple of pages at a time. For me, it seemed too wordy for the type of story he was telling.
6. The Sacrifice of Darkness by Roxane Gay and Tracy Lynne Oliver
A graphic novel dealing with identity, guilt, and survival. A miner takes a spaceship and flies into the sun, extinguishing it and plunging his world into darkness. In the future, his family is judged and shunned for his actions. We get the parallel love stories of the miner and his wife and their son and his wife. Part sci-fi, part romance adds up to not much to recommend. It was quick, though, and I needed that.
7. The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor
After being blamed for a tragedy in her parish, Jack Brooks is temporarily reassigned as vicar of Chapel Croft. Chapel Croft is known for the burning of eight protestant martyrs hundreds of years ago. It is said the burning girls still appear to those who are in danger. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls and a priest disappeared, Two months ago, the most recent vicar committed suicide. Jack and her daughter become embroiled in the mysteries surrounding these events.
I enjoyed this one. It had nice, short chapters which always seems to make a book read faster. I liked the characters of Jack and her daughter. The mystery was compelling. I didn’t see the twists coming and they were satisfying reveals. I would rank this as the best I read this month.