One in six adults in the UK – approximately 9 million people – have difficulty reading, and one in three people do not read regularly for pleasure. Quick Reads was created by The Reading Agency to help address those statistics. They are a collection of books released each year by well known authors designed to be a short and entertaining read. The hope is that they will help those who find they’ve little time to read, struggle with a longer book or have just simply fallen out of the habit of reading, to get back into a love of books by indulging in a Quick Read.
This year Quick Reads is celebrating their 15th Anniversary. Over five million copies of their titles have been distributed since the programme began in 2006. To celebrate, for every book bought until July 31st 2021, another copy will be gifted to someone to help them discover the joy of reading.
I was contacted by Midas PR offering me a choice of one of this years Quick Reads to read and review. This years titles are:
The Baby Is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite When his girlfriend throws him out during the pandemic, Bambi has to go to his Uncle’s house in lock-down Lagos. He arrives during a blackout and is surprised to find his Aunty Bidemi sitting in a candlelit room with another woman. They are fighting because both claim to be the mother of the baby boy, fast asleep in his crib. At night Bambi is kept awake by the baby’s cries, and during the days he is disturbed by a cockerel that stalks the garden. There is sand in the rice. A blood stain appears on the wall. Someone scores tribal markings into the baby’s cheeks. Who is lying and who is telling the truth?
Oyinkan Braithwaite gained a degree in Creative Writing and Law at Kingston University. Her first book, My Sister, the Serial Killer, was a number one bestseller. It was shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize and was on the long list for the 2019 Booker Prize.
Oyinkan Braithwaite, author of The Baby is Mine (Atlantic) said: “When I am writing, I don’t know what my readers will look like or what challenges they may be facing. So it was an interesting experience creating work with the understanding that the reader might need a story that was easy to digest, and who might not have more than a few hours in a week to commit to reading. It was daunting – simpler does not necessarily mean easier – I may have pulled out a couple of my hairs; but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Quick Reads tapped into my desire to create fiction that would be an avenue for relief and escape for all who came across it.”
The Skylight by Louise Candlish They can’t see her, but she can see them… Simone has a secret. She likes to stand at her bathroom window and spy on the couple downstairs through their kitchen skylight. She knows what they eat for breakfast and who they’ve got over for dinner. She knows what mood they’re in before they even step out the door. There’s nothing wrong with looking, is there? Until one day Simone sees something through the skylight she is not expecting. Something that upsets her so much she begins to plot a terrible crime…
Louise Candlish is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Other Passenger and thirteen other novels. Our House won the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards. It is now in development for a major TV series. Louise lives in London with her husband and daughter.
Louise Candlish, author of The Skylight (Simon & Schuster) said: It’s an honour to be involved in this [next] year’s Quick Reads. Reading set me on the right path when I was young and adrift and it means such a lot to me to be a part of literacy campaign that really does change lives.”
Saving the Day by Katie Ffjord Allie is bored with her job and starting to wonder whether she even likes her boyfriend, Ryan. The high point in her day is passing a café on her walk home from work. It is the sort of place where she’d really like to work. Then one day she sees as advert on the door: assistant wanted. But before she can land her dream job, Allie knows she must achieve two things: 1. Learn to cook; 2. End her relationship with Ryan, especially as through the window of the café, she spies a waiter who looks much more like her type of man. And when she learns that the café is in danger of closing, Allie knows she must do her very best to save the day …
Katie Fforde lives in the beautiful Cotswold countryside with her family and is a true country girl at heart. Each of her books explores a differentjoband her research has helped her bring these to life. To find out more about Katie Fforde step into her world at www.katiefforde.com, visit her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @KatieFforde.
Katie Fforde, author of Saving the Day (Arrow, Penguin Random House) said: “As a dyslexic person who even now can remember the struggle to read, I was delighted to be asked to take part in the scheme. Anything that might help someone who doesn’t find reading easy is such a worthwhile thing to do.”
Wish You Were Dead by Peter James Roy Grace and his family have left Sussex behind for a week’s holiday in France. The website promised a grand house, but when they arrive the place is very different from the pictures. And it soon becomes clear that their holiday nightmare is only just beginning. An old enemy of Roy, a lowlife criminal he had put behind bars, is now out of jail – and out for revenge. He knows where Roy and his family have gone on holiday. Of course he does. He’s been hacking their emails – and they are in the perfect spot for him to pay Roy back…
Peter James is a UK number one bestselling author, best known for his crime and thriller novels. He is the creator of the much-loved detective Roy Grace. His books have been translated into thirty-seven languages. He has won over forty awards for his work, including the WHSmith Best Crime Author of All Time Award. Many of his books have been adapted for film, TV and stage.
Peter James, author of Wish You Were Dead (Macmillan) said: “The most treasured moments of my career have been when someone tells me they hadn’t read anything for years, often since their school days, but are back into reading via my books. What more could an author hope for? Reading helps us tackle big challenges, transports us into new worlds, takes us on adventures, allows us to experience many different lives and open us up to aspects of our world we never knew existed. So I’m delighted to be supporting Quick Reads again – I hope it will help more people get started on their reading journeys and be the beginning of a life-long love of books.”
How To Be A Woman (abridged) by Caitlin Moran It’s a good time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727. But a few nagging questions remain… Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should we use Botox? Do men secretly hate us? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby? Part memoir, part protest, Caitlin answers the questions that every modern woman is asking.
Caitlin Moran became a columnist at The Times at eighteen and has gone on to be named Columnist of the Year six times. She is the author of many award-winning books and her bestseller How to Be a Woman has been published in 28 countries and won the British Book Awards’ Book of the Year 2011. Her first novel, How to Build a Girl, is now a major feature film. Find out more at her website www.caitlinmoran.co.uk and follow her on Twitter @caitlinmoran
Caitlin Moran, author of How to Be a Woman (abridged) (Ebury) said: “I wrote How To Be A Woman because I felt that feminism is such a beautiful, brilliant, urgent and necessary invention that it should not be hidden away in academic debates, or in books which most women and men found dull, and unreadable. Having a Quick Reads edition of it, therefore, makes me happier than I can begin to describe – everyone deserves to have the concept of female equality in a book they can turn to as a chatty friend, on hand to help them through the often bewildering ass-hattery of Being A Woman. There’s no such thing as a book being too quick, too easy, or too fun. A book is a treat – a delicious pudding for your brain. I’m so happy Quick Reads have allowed me to pour extra cream and cherries on How To Be A Woman.”
The Motive by Khurrum Rahman Business has been slow for Hounslow’s small time dope-dealer, Jay Qasim. A student house party means quick easy cash, but it also means breaking his own rules. But desperate times lead him there – and Jay finds himself in the middle of a crime scene. Idris Zaidi, a police constable and Jay’s best friend, is having a quiet night when he gets a call out following a noise complaint at a house party. Fed up with the lack of excitement in his job, he visits the scene and quickly realises that people are in danger after a stabbing. Someone will stop at nothing to get revenge…
Born in Karachi, Pakistan in 1975, Khurrum moved to England when he was one. He is a west London boy and now lives in Berkshire with his wife and two sons. Khurrum is currently working as a Senior IT Officer but his real love is writing. His first two books in the Jay Qasim series, East of Hounslow and Homegrown Hero, have been shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger.
Khurrum Rahman, author of The Motive (HQ) said: “I started reading late in life, as the idea of reading a book always seemed overwhelming. I hesitantly began a book a friend had recommended and quickly became totally immersed in the story. I found joy and comfort and most importantly, an escape. It’s for this very reason that I am so proud to be involved with Quick Reads. This initiative is so important for people, like I once was, to engage in stories that may mirror their own lives or to read experiences far beyond their imagination. Just like a friend once did for me, I hope I am able to play a small part in encouraging somebody to pick up a book.”
Released May 27th, each book is just £1, or 88p on Amazon. An absolute bargain for a great read by a contemporary author. As I had already pre-ordered one of the books, I requested a copy of The Baby Is Mine. Keep an eye out for my review on publication day.
Are you planning to buy an of this years Quick Reads? Let me know in the comments.
Welcome to First Lines Friday: Flashback, where on the first Friday of the month I share the first lines from one of the older books on my shelves and try to tempt you to add it to yours.
“The morning one of the lost twins returned to Mallard, Lou LeBon ran to the diner to break the news, and even now, many years later, everyone remembers the shock of sweaty Lou pushing through the glass doors, chest heaving, neckline darkened with is own effort. The barely awake customers clamored around him, ten or so, although more would lie and say they’d been there too, if only to pretend that this once, they’d witnessed something truly exciting. In that little farm town, nothing surprising every happened, not since the Vignes twins had disappeared. But that morning in April 1968, on his was to work, Lou spotted Desiree Vignes walking along Partridge Road carrying a small leather suitcase.”
Today’s first lines are taken from The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, which is one of the books shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021. It’s been on my shelf since it’s release in June last year and is one of the 21 books I’ve committed to reading from my backlist this year.
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
You can buy the book here* *This is an affiliate link
Have I tempted you to add this one to your shelves? Or have you already read it? Let me know in the comments.
Thank you to Dialogue Books for the gifted copy of the book.
I am really excited to be announcing that I am heading up (with the help of some of my wonderful fellow bloggers) the SquadPod book club! We are taking our love of books official with a brand new book club for 2021 that will be the home of chatting about and championing our new favourite […]
Today I’m sharing very important stack for a cause.
Each year, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) declares February as National Heart Month in the UK. This is a charity and cause that is close to my heart partly because of my dear friend Faye.
Faye was born with heart problems and over the years she’d had to have a pacemaker fitted and some of her valves replaced with artificial ones. But despite her condition she was active, fit and healthy. A person truly living her best life.
Sadly, in March last year she was taken ill with endocarditis, a rare and potentially fatal infection of the inner lining of the heart (the endicardium). Though she had survived the condition after surgery twenty years earlier, she fell into a coma during surgery and never recovered, passing away on March 14th last year at just 40 years old. Writing this hurts my heart so much. With lockdown hitting days later I’ve never been able to say goodbye to my friend and her sudden loss still feels unreal.
With the first anniversary of her death approaching and February being National Heart Month, I thought this was the perfect time to create the #redstackforFaye and ask as many of you as possible to join in on Instagram and Twitter to raise awareness of this rare condition. I have made a donation to the British Heart Foundation and ask you to consider doing the same here.
Thank you for reading. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xxxx
Today is my stop on the tour for this remarkable debut. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Doubleday for the eBook ARC.
An extraordinary friendship. A lifetime of stories. Their last one begins here.
‘This is something special: moving, joyful and life-affirming’ GOOD HOUSEKEEPING Book of the Month
‘Heartwarming, remarkable stories’ BBC BOOKS FOR 2021 _______________________________________ Life is short. No-one knows that better than seventeen-year-old Lenni living on the terminal ward. But as she is about to learn, it’s not only what you make of life that matters, but who you share it with.
Dodging doctor’s orders, she joins an art class where she bumps into fellow patient Margot, a rebel-hearted eight-three-year-old from the next ward. Their bond is instant as they realize that together they have lived an astonishing one hundred years.
To celebrate their shared century, they decide to paint their life stories: of growing old and staying young, of giving joy, of receiving kindness, of losing love, of finding the person who is everything.
As their extraordinary friendship deepens, it becomes vividly clear that life is not done with Lenni and Margot yet.
Fiercely alive, disarmingly funny and brimming with tenderness, THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT unwraps the extraordinary gift of life even when it is about to be taken away, and revels in our infinite capacity for friendship and love when we need them most.
“Living and dying are both complete mysteries, and you can’t know either until you’ve done both.”
Every once in a while you will come across a book that reaches into your heart and soul and changes you forever. The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is such a book. A story of life, death, all the magical moments in between, it is hard to believe that this is a debut. Utterly mesmerising, this is a book that lingers long after reading.
I loved Lenni. She is smart, sassy, fierce and funny. I loved how she thrived on challenging those around her; everyone from Father Arthur to the exasperated nurses, how she travelled via her imagination each day and the fact that she refused to be held back by the confines of impending death and the hospital ward. She is so alive that it is hard to believe she is dying, leaping from the page straight into my heart. Margot’s impact is a little more subtle, much like the lady herself. She has a dignified and graceful air about her, but from the moment we first meet her you also get a sense of rebellion. As we learn more, it becomes clear she has lived an extraordinary life and I could have read a whole other book about her without getting bored. I love a good multi-generational tale and their friendship is truly special and remarkable and will remain one of my favourites.
Marianne Cronin is a phenomenal new talent and this novel is storytelling at its finest. She immerses you in Lenni’s world, making you feel the helplessness, frustration, loneliness and claustrophobia of being confined to the hospital’s walls and her fear of death as she laments she has so much more she wants to experience. She has also crafted rich, compelling and memorable characters who occupy Lenni’s small world, each one vital to propelling the story forward, just like those in the stories they share through their paintings.
What makes this book so special is how it makes you feel, which is obviously something you need to experience for yourself. I doubt I have managed to do it justice, but I’ve done my best. Beautiful, poignant, heart-rending and hypnotic, this is a book everyone needs to read. It will make you laugh, smile, cry, break your heart, and when you close that final page you will not be the same.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Marianne Cronin was born in 1990. She studied English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Birmingham. She now spends most of her time writing, with her newly-adopted rescue cat sleeping under her desk. When she’s not writing, Marianne can be found performing improv in the West Midlands, where she lives. Her debut novel The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is to be published around the world and is being adapted into a feature film by a major Hollywood studio.
Happy Publication Day to one of my favourite authors. I’m thrilled to be taking part in the tour for this novel on release day. Thank you to Raven Books for my gifted ARC and to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in the blog tour.
Wicked deeds require the cover of darkness…
A struggling silhouette artist in Victorian Bath seeks out a renowned child spirit medium in order to speak to the dead – and to try and identify their killers – in this beguiling new tale from Laura Purcell.
Silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another…
Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them. But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…
What secrets lie hidden in the darkness?
“Wicked deeds require the cover of darkness.”
A clever mix of whodunnit and ghost story, The Shape of Darkness is told with Purcell’s signature flair of haunting, gothic prose against a chilling and beautiful historic backdrop with richly drawn and memorable characters.
Agnes is a silhouette artist struggling to make ends meet thanks to advancements in the field that have made her craft almost obsolete. When the few customers she does have start to turn up viciously murdered, she becomes the police’s prime suspect and sets out to find a way to prove her innocence; determined to both clear her name and save her business.
Eleven-year-old Pearl is a spirit medium who lives with her sister and gravely ill father. She is the main attraction at the seances she and her sister hold, with people coming far and wide to see her in hope of connecting with a loved one they’ve lost. She is the person that Agnes turns to in hope of finding out who has killed her clients. But they soon learn that when you lift the veil to welcome the other side, you might get more than you bargained for.
“The ghosts are coming. Her arms are glowing, her breath is glowing. She’s being swallowed.”
Laura Purcell is one of my favourite authors so I was giddy with excitement when I received a stunning proof copy of her latest novel. Atmospheric and chilling, the vivid imagery and descriptions transported me back to 1854, making me feel like I was walking the streets of Bath beside Agnes or cowering in the dark beside Pearl. As always, the book is well researched and includes fascinating historical facts that will both thrill and horrify you (phossy jaw, I’m looking at you).
Ms. Purcell has a great recipe for the eerie ambience that lingers throughout this book. First, she sets the book in Victorian Bath and its large, gothic houses. Next, she adds a lonely woman mourning a lost love and an albino child whose mother died in childbirth and father hovers on the edge of death. Then, she includes a generous helping of mesmerism, seances, dark shadows, ghostly happenings and murder. Finally, with a sprinkle she includes the mysterious appearance of notes in the handwriting of someone gone from this world that Anges is trying to forget and a pinch of things from beyond the veil that linger when they should have left, you have a deliciously menacing and gothic read.
Sinister, spooky and mysterious, this book keeps you guessing right until the end. Are Agnes and Pearl really communicating with the dead? Is Agnes really seeing ghosts? Could she be the murderer?
There were times I found this book a bit slow and, for me, it didn’t quite live up to the glory of her first two books (I am yet to read Bone China), but overall this was a gripping gothic read I would recommend to those who love the genre.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Laura Purcell is a former bookseller living in Colchester, Essex with her husband and pet guinea pigs.
She began her career with two historical novels about the Hanoverian monarchs, Queen of Bedlam and Mistress of the Court.
Her first Gothic novel for Raven Books, The Silent Companions, was a Radio 2 Book Club pick, was selected for the Zoe Ball ITV Book Club and was the winner of the Thumping Good Read Award. Her other Gothic titles include The Corset, Bone China and the upcoming The Shape of Darkness.
In the USA Laura is published by Penguin Books, where The Corset is titled The Poison Thread and Bone China is called The House of Whispers.
Additionally, Laura’s short stories have been published in a number of collections. These include Cameo, featured in Phantoms, Vanitas in the Audible Original Homeless Bodies and Other Stories and Creeping Ivy, coming October 2020 in After Sundown.
I decided that as well as sharing my favourite 20 books of 2020 (see yesterday’s post), I would also ask some of my blogger friends in a group we call the Squadpod for their lists too. I love how many of the same books appear on these lists as well as how different they are. They’ve certainly given me lots of reading ideas for 2021!
Read to the end to see which books from this stack gets our overall recommendation of the year.
Beth at Beth’s Booketlist
The Sun Sister by Lucinda Riley
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak
Our group favourite was a close call between two fantastic books: Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton and The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor. In the end it came down to one vote, with Three Hours taking the win with eight recommendations out of nineteen bloggers.
A number of books made a few of the lists. Here are the ones that came stood out as the most recommended:
Today is the first post in a new series called Cozy Mysteries. Each month I will post a list of upcoming releaes in this genre. I’m doing this after I was approached by the moderators of CozyMystery on Reddit to compile a monthly list for them.
When I happily agreed to do this I hadn’t realised that I know very little about the genre and authors, so this hasn’t been an easy task. I am still compiling a list of authors and following them on Amazon so I don’t miss any future releases. I’ve enjoyed learning more about this genre, which I enjoy but don’t often read. Let’s just say my tbr has grown while researching this list.
So, without further ado, here are the Cozy Mystery books being released in December:
The Murder at the Mayfair Hotel (Cleopatra Fox Mysteries 1) by C. J. Archer
SYNOPSIS: December 1899. After the death of her beloved grandmother, Cleopatra Fox moves into the luxury hotel owned by her estranged uncle in the hopes of putting hardship and loneliness behind her. But the poisoning of a guest throws her new life, and the hotel, into chaos.
Cleo quickly realizes no one can be trusted, not Scotland Yard and especially not the hotel’s charming assistant manager. With the New Year’s Eve ball approaching fast and the hotel’s reputation hanging by a thread, Cleo must find the killer before the ball, and the hotel itself, are ruined. But catching a murderer proves just as difficult as navigating the hotel’s hierarchy and the peculiarities of her family.
Can Cleo find the killer before the new century begins? Or will someone get away with murder?
Published December 1st, 2020
Murder on a Midnight Clear (High Society Lady Detective Book 6) by Sara Rosett
SYNOPSIS: A snowbound country mansion, a missing butler, and a Christmas case . . .
Olive and Jasper have never been closer—except in one area. Jasper is still reticent about his frequent disappearances from polite society. With the holidays approaching and no paying client on the books, Olive decides to shadow Jasper when he’s unexpectedly called away. Her search brings her to Holly Hill Lodge where an eclectic group has gathered to celebrate an old-fashioned English Christmas.
The guest list includes a celebrated lawn tennis champion, a fussy scientist studying snowflakes, a persuasive luggage salesman, a famous lady explorer, and the family’s eccentric aunt who has a fondness for the newfangled drinks called cocktails.
When the butler goes missing, Olive and Jasper must work together to solve the Christmas crime—as well as the secret Jasper hides. Murder on a Midnight Clear is the latest installment in USA Today bestselling author Sara Rosett’s popular High Society Lady Detective series.
Unwrap this 1920s Christmas mystery with all the trimmings—carols, a Yule log, plum pudding . . . and murder.
Published December 1st, 2020
Hush-Hush (The Village Library Mysteries Book 4) by Elizabeth Spann Craig
SYNOPSIS: It’s hard keeping secrets in small towns.
At first, librarian Ann Beckett is delighted her director hired another full-time staff member. The Whitby Library is a busy place and another librarian should make life much easier there.
Instead, she soon discovers that the new hire, Ellie, seems to be bent on creating issues instead of solving them. When she’s found dead at the library, no one is as shocked as they might have been.
With time running out and a desperate killer on the loose, Ann starts uncovering all the secrets Ellie was trying to keep hush-hush.
Published December 1st, 2020
Murder on the Ballot (A Myrtle Clover Cozy Mystery Book 17) by Elizabeth Spann Craig
SYNOPSIS: If you can’t beat them, join them.
Octogenarian Myrtle Clover is so annoyed by the infighting at tiny Bradley, North Carolina’s town council meetings that she decides on a radical course of action: she’ll run for the open seat on the council. After all, she taught most of the elected officials—she should be able to enact some order.
But order apparently isn’t in the works. This becomes clear when a fellow candidate is found . . . murdered.
Myrtle and her senior sidekick Miles must uncover the killer before someone else becomes a lame duck.
Published December 1st, 2020
Heather and Homicide (The Highland Bookshop Mystery Series) by Molly MacRae
SYNOPSIS: The new novel in the acclaimed Highland Bookshop mystery series finds a true-crime author murdered in the charming seacoast town of Inversgail—can the women of Yon Bonnie Books discover the killer’s identity before he or she strikes again?
True crime writer Heather Kilbride arrives in the seacoast town of Inversgail, Scotland, to research a recent murder for her new book. But if that’s true, why does she seem more interested in William Clark, a shadowy lawyer with no connection to the murder? Her nosy questions arouse the suspicions of Constable Hobbs, the members of a local writers’ group, and Janet Marsh and her crew of amateur sleuths at Yon Bonnie Books.
Heather’s unconventional research methods prove deadly when Janet discovers her lifeless body. Except the “body” turns out to be a dummy dressed-up to look like Heather. Meanwhile, Heather is sitting at a safe distance observing Janet’s reactions.
Then Heather is found dead—again—sprawled at the base of an ancient standing stone; and this time it’s for real. Clutched in her hand is a valuable miniature book last seen at Yon Bonnie Books, and now the police want to know how Heather, the miniature book, and Janet are all connected. But Janet and her group of sleuths have two questions of their own: Who else is interested in knowing that connection—and is that person a cold-blooded killer?
Published December 1st, 2020
Premeditated Mortar (Fixer-Upper Mysteries) by Kate Carlisle
SYNOPSIS: Shannon Hammer is about to embark on one of the biggest projects of her career. Her best friend Jane Hennessey has purchased one wing of the Gables, formerly the old state insane asylum, located on a bucolic hillside two miles northeast of Lighthouse Cove. Jane plans to turn her section into a small luxury hotel complete with twenty ocean-view rooms, a spa, and a restaurant.
Shannon is raring to get started on the enormous project and is shocked when a group of unruly protesters shows up at the groundbreaking ceremony and wreaks havoc. She’s even more freaked-out when someone pushes her into a pit of bricks in a closed-off room of the asylum. Despite her close call, Shannon wants nothing more than to get back to work . . . until she finds a body not far from where she was pushed. Now Shannon is determined to get to the bottom of the goings-on at the Gables even if it kills her. . . .
Published December 1st, 2020
Witch is the New Black (A Supernatural Speakeasy Mystery Book 4) by Lily Harper Hart
SYNOPSIS: Ofelia Archer has faced demons, evil witches, and freaky zombies, but nothing could prepare her for the horror of meeting her boyfriend’s mother, Madeline Sully. She thinks she’s ready and able, but she’s really not. For his part, Zacharias “Zach” Sully isn’t any more thrilled by his mother’s visit than his girlfriend. He’s simply better at dealing with Madeline’s brand of madness. After one meal, a magical barrage of fire rains down on the group as they’re walking down Bourbon Street. When the flames clear, a young woman is left for dead, and the only thing they know about her is that she was part of a multi-level marketing scheme called Hexential Oils. Before they realize what’s happening, Sully and Ofelia find themselves knee-deep in an odd world that neither of them really understand … and it leads straight to trouble, as usual. It seems New Orleans is teeming with suspects, and they have no idea which one to focus on. Ofelia and Sully have a bond that can’t be broken. That won’t stop outsiders from trying. When the hierarchy of Hexential Oils leads to long-forgotten magic and a creature of mythical proportions, they realize they’re in over their heads. They’ll die to protect one another … and someone desperately wants to make that a reality. It will take both of them working together to make sure that doesn’t happen
Published December 1st, 2020
The Banshee Brouhaha (A Charlie Rhodes Cozy Mystery Book 8) by Amanda M. Lee
SYNOPSIS: Charlie Rhodes has spent her entire life wondering who her birth parents were, why they abandoned her, and where the magic she’s been learning to hone came from. She’s finally going to get some answers. With proof that the new member of the Legacy Foundation is really her brother, Charlie sets off to visit Salem with him and her boyfriend Jack Hanson. She’s never been to the city before and finds that the history swirling is only one of the things that has her excited. Not long after landing, a body is strung up in Salem Common, and witnesses say it was ghosts doing the dirty work. Jack is intrigued enough to call in the rest of the team. Since Charlie’s parents are supposedly taking refuge within the city limits, the investigation makes for a nice cover. It’s not long before Charlie realizes that there’s more going on in Salem than witches and white magic. Something dark is festering under the surface, and whatever it is seems to be taking aim at her. Charlie wants answers. She’s also afraid to get them. During the search for what she’s lost, though, she becomes more determined than ever to hold onto what she has. There’s evil afoot, and a woman who looks like an older version of Charlie is stalking the group. Could the two things be connected? Charlie won’t leave until she knows for certain. Salem’s history might be coming back to haunt those who venture into the city and it’s up to the Legacy Foundation to figure out why … that is if they survive long enough to uncover the answers. Hold onto your broomsticks, because it’s going to be a witchy ride.
Published December 1st, 2020
The Kensington Kidnap (Epiphany Bloom Mystery Book 1) by Katie Gayle
SYNOPSIS: A missing teenager, a mysterious cult and a case of mistaken identity – just another day’s work for Epiphany Bloom.
Epiphany ‘Pip’ Bloom is down on her luck. She can barely afford cat food, and just because Most has three legs doesn’t mean he eats any less. So she absolutely can’t afford to mess up her latest temp job. But when she walks through the door of the private investigation firm, her new boss mistakes her for a missing persons expert. He then charges her with finding Matty Price – the teenage son of two A-list celebrities – who has mysteriously disappeared from his home in Kensington.
It ought to be a disaster, but Pip reckons it’s actually an opportunity. She’s always been curious (nosy, her mother calls it) and has an uncanny knack for being at the wrong place at the right time (she doesn’t want to know what her mother thinks of that). After years of trying to find something she’s good at, has Pip managed to walk straight into the job she was born to do?
She owes it to herself and poor missing Matty to find out.
But searching for Matty takes Pip into the strange, intimidating world of the rich and famous. And it soon becomes clear that some of these people’s love for themselves doesn’t extend to their fellow humans.
As Pip investigates further, she realises the question isn’t whether Matty ran away – it’s whether Pip will find him alive and make it home safely herself…
Published December 2nd, 2020
A Wreath of Ruin: A Supernatural Mystery Christmas Special (Belinda Drake Mysteries Book 4) by Kate Krake
SYNOPSIS: It’s Christmas in Blackthorn Springs, and Belinda Drake has big plans to make this the best Christmas ever for her and Conri, and she doesn’t want to use a single drop of her new magic to pull it off.
When culinary catastrophe strikes, Belinda and Conri end up spending the holiday with Lila’s family, including Lila’s grandmother, who’s not at all like Lila had built her up to be. Is Gran just a little bit strange, or is something supernatural threatening to ruin Christmas?
When things take a turn for the worst, Belinda has to reach deeply into herself and the nature of the magic she’s not sure she can trust.
Published December 2nd, 2020
The Fatal Flying Affair (A Lady Hardcastle Mystery Book 7) by T. E. Kinsey
SYNOPSIS: August 1911. Emily Hardcastle and her inimitable lady’s maid Florence Armstrong are enjoying a fine summer until Harry, Lady H’s brother, turns up out of the blue with a mystery for them to solve.
A routine parachute test at a local aeroplane factory has gone horribly wrong—with pilot Dickie Dupree plummeting to his death. Harry is certain there is more to this ‘tragic accident’ than meets the eye, having discovered that someone at the airfield is leaking top secret intelligence to foreign rivals.
In between strolls to the Dog & Duck and planning for the annual village show, the daring duo dust off the Crime Board and go undercover at Bristol Aviation. With international powers investing heavily in aeronautics, the stakes are high—sky high—and the suspects soon mount up.
Can Lady Hardcastle find the culprit before someone else falls down dead?
Published December 3rd, 2020
Christmas Corpse (A Christmas Cozy Mystery Book 1) by Mona Marple
SYNOPSIS: Welcome to Candy Cane Hollow, where every day feels like Christmas! Holly Wood (yes, that’s her real name) is driving home for Christmas and not feeling too happy about the empty house waiting for her.
When her car skids into a snow bank, she’s rescued by a sweet old lady who promises her name is Mrs Claus.
Holly is taken to Candy Cane Hollow to recover, and finds herself in a genuine winter wonderland.
As Christmas Day approaches, the grouchy medical receptionist appears to have been poisoned by a mince pie.
And to Holly’s surprise, Mrs Claus is the prime suspect.
With Mrs Claus under suspicion, Holly vows to return the woman’s generosity by clearing her name.
Maybe it will impress Mrs Claus’ dimpled dish of a son, too?
Published December 3rd, 2020
Shooting Pains (Dr Cathy Moreland Book 3) by Mairi Chong
SYNOPSIS: When one of Dr Cathy Moreland’s patients attends the surgery with a disturbing story of marital tension, accompanied by a suggestive bruise on her upper arm, the doctor is understandably concerned. The young woman confides that she is afraid of her husband, a local farmhand, but refuses to allow the doctor to help any further.
The following week, Dr Moreland, both overworked and strained, is horrified to hear of a fatal shooting on the local farm estate, and even more so when she realises that the woman and her husband are at the very centre of the tragedy. Was the shooting an accident, or is something more sinister taking place in the sleepy Scottish countryside?
Dr Moreland must draw on all of her courage to uncover the truth, even if it means risking, not only her own mental health but her life.
Published December 3rd, 2020
Dashing Through the Sand (Beach Christmas Mysteries Books 1) by Katherine Hayton
SYNOPSIS: My name is Santa and I’m fed up. The stress of single-day delivery, elf wrangling, and squeezing through chimneys that grow smaller every year is getting me down, so I decide to take a well-deserved holiday on a sun-drenched beach in Australia.
Sure, there’ll be a lot less milk and cookies but according to my cardiologist, that can only be a good thing.
But when I take my towel down to the glorious foreshore of Mission Beach, Queensland, the world has a nasty surprise in store. A dead body washes up among the sand-bubbler crabs and a witness swears the man was last seen in my company.
The Christmas spirit is nowhere in evidence as I work to clear my name. If I can’t hunt down the true killer and get back home in time for the big day, the Mrs will put me at the top of the naughty list!
Published December 3rd, 2020
Mystery at the Old Mill (An Eve Mallow Mystery Book 4)by Clare Chase
SYNOPSIS: When the calm of Saxford St Peter is disrupted by a deadly fire at the Old Mill, amateur sleuth Eve Mallow finds herself investigating a most surprising mystery!
Everyone in Saxford St Peter is desperate to know more about Harry Tennant, the newcomer who owns the Old Mill. He usually keeps himself to himself, but he’s finally invited the villagers round for drinks, and Eve Mallow isn’t the only one looking forward to having some questions answered.
But two days before the party, a terrible fire sweeps through the mill, and Harry is found dead. When Eve passes the burned remains of his beautiful house, she can’t resist the call to investigate. Especially when it turns out quiet, charming Harry was living a double life as the famous advice writer Pippa Longford. Eve has to wonder what revelations were contained in the letters he received… and whether one of them was worth killing for.
Accompanied by her reliable dachshund sidekick Gus, Eve starts digging. She soon realises Harry was at the centre of a web of lives – and lies. There’s an uncle desperate to inherit, two women who thought they were his one and only, not to mention everyone who shared their darkest secrets with him. Was one of those strangers much closer to home than Harry knew? And can Eve untangle the truth before she finds herself face to face with a killer?
Published December 7th, 2020
Rocco & the Snow Angel (An Inspector Rocco Mystery) by Adrian Magson
SYNOPSIS: A former village priest shot dead execution-style in a snow-covered field re-opens memories of a wartime scandal around the villages of Poissons-les-Marais and Fouillmont, when young infatuation led to a spate of coldly efficient assassinations.
But who’s responsible for this particular killing? And why so long after the event?
For Inspector Lucas Rocco, it means pushing aside the veil surrounding old Resistance activities and fighting dangerous political connections to track down a deadly long-range killer with the ability to hide in open countryside.
Published December 7th, 2020
Ghostly Graves (A Harper Harlow and Maddie Graves Mystery) by Lily Harper Hart
SYNOPSIS: Maddie and Nick Winters are embarking on the biggest adventure of their lives: parenthood. They’re nervous, excited, and prepared to go shopping. That leads them to a special baby boutique in Whisper Cove, where they just happen to participate in a cemetery tour run by Michigan’s most famous ghost hunter. Maddie and the tour guide Harper Harlow recognize each other for what they are right off the bat, although they don’t initially say anything. Everything spills out in the open, though, when a ghost leads Maddie to the body of a local plastic surgeon. The dead doctor has an interesting reputation with the women around town, and Maddie recognizes him from her days of nursing. Before anybody realizes what’s happening, the two women have formed a crime-fighting team and they’re determined to uncover answers. Nick would prefer Maddie shop and embrace their incoming baby but he knows when her inner detective can’t be silenced. While the men bond – and discuss loving a magical woman – the women (and Zander, of course) dig deep and uncover exactly how sordid the tale of an unethical doctor can be.
Published December 8th, 2020
Ghostly Graves and Gunslingers by Lily Harper Hart
SYNOPSIS: Four women, four magical talents, four mysteries, and four chances at romance. Spend some time with Hannah Hickok, Maddie Graves, Harper Harlow and Rowan Gray as they crossover in three different mysteries and stir up a whole host of trouble. You’ll laugh, cry, and be amazed.
Published December 8th, 2020
Cold Wind (Alaska Wild 2) by Paige Shelton
SYNOPSIS: Beth Rivers is still in Alaska. The unidentified man who kidnapped her in her home of St. Louis hasn’t been found yet, so she’s not ready to go back.
But as October comes to a close, Benedict is feeling more and more like her new home. Beth has been working on herself: She’s managed to get back to writing, and she’s enjoying these beautiful months between summer and winter in Alaska.
Then, everything in Benedict changes after a mudslide exposes a world that had been hidden for years. Two mud-covered, silent girls appear, and a secret trapper’s house is found in the woods. The biggest surprise, though, is a dead and frozen woman’s body in the trapper’s shed. No one knows who she is, but the man who runs the mercantile, Randy, seems to be in the middle of all the mysteries.
Unable to escape her journalistic roots, Beth is determined to answer the questions that keep arising: Are the mysterious girls and the frozen body connected? Can Randy possibly be involved? And—most importantly—can she solve this mystery before the cold wind sweeping over the town and the townspeople descends for good?
Published December 8th, 2020
Reluctant Bumpkin (County Cousins Mysteries Book 6) by Sam Cheever
SYNOPSIS: She’s just a girl with a dog, a cat, and a pig. And since she’s been drafted into helping her boyfriend scare his younger brother straight, she’s a girl who’s suddenly glad she’s an only child. Hal’s younger brother has been banished to Deer Hollow because of his proclivity for getting into trouble. Hal’s parents are hoping he’ll take the kid under his wing and straighten him out. But Asher Amity has a knack for finding trouble, and it doesn’t take him long to find it in Deer Hollow. When Asher steps into a steaming pile of murder and treachury, Hal and Joey are destined to get dragged into the mess with him. Who knew how dangerous babysitting could be?
Published December 8th, 2020
Rivera Gold (Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes) by Laurie R. King
SYNOPSIS: It’s summertime on the Riviera, where the Jazz Age is busily reinventing the holiday delights of warm days on golden sand and cool nights on terraces and dance floors. Just up the coast lies a more traditional pleasure ground: Monte Carlo, where fortunes are won, lost, stolen, and hidden away. So when Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes happen across the Cote d’Azur in this summer of 1925, they find themselves pulled between the young and the old, hot sun and cool jazz, new friendships and old loyalties, childlike pleasures and very grownup sins…
Published December 10th, 2020
A Matter of Murder (Campbell & Carter 7) by Ann Granger
SYNOPSIS: Two years ago, Miff Ferguson chose to opt out of the rat race. Since then he’s been living rough and happily so. That is until now. For, as the first signs of winter approach, everything changes. While looking for shelter, Miff stumbles across the dead body of a young woman inside a dilapidated warehouse. Quickly realising he’s not alone, and what’s worse he’s been spotted, Miff becomes embroiled in a game of cat-and-mouse with a killer that forces him to abandon his life on the streets and take refuge with his aunt and uncle in the village of Weston St Ambrose. But, despite his best efforts to lie low, trouble seems to follow him and when another dead body is discovered at a local farm, it’s clear Miff is not free from danger.
With the clock ticking, Inspector Jess Campbell and Superintendent Ian Carter must join forces once again with the team of police at Bamford to piece together the puzzle before another innocent life is lost…
Published December 10th, 2020
A Dodgy Death (Kat McCoy Lake County Cozy Mystery Series Book 1) by Jacqueline M. Green
SYNOPSIS: “Kat, someone is trying to kill me!” A dotty aunt. A death on the staircase. And valuable drawings that have disappeared. With her aunt’s prophetic final phone call ringing in her ears, Kat McCoy’s visit to England takes a sharp turn. She learns her aunt discovered and subsequently hid four historical drawings reportedly worth thousands of British pounds – and Kat’s not the only one who knows about them. Did her elderly aunt die from an accidental fall or something more sinister? With help from new friends, including the handsome village constable, Kat tries to settle the question of her aunt’s death, all the while knowing the killer is still out there. Can Kat unmask the killer, find the drawings and still make her flight home to the States? Or will the drawings – and the truth – be lost forever?
Published December 10th, 2020
Preserves & Premonitions (A Southern Charms Cozy Mystery Book 7) by Bella Falls
SYNOPSIS: Magic and mystery are only part of the Southern Charms of Honeysuckle Hollow…
Charli Goodwin’s future seemed to be nothing but smooth sailing…until the last spell she cast changed the course of everything! Now, it’s not only her life but the lives of others she cares deeply for that are tied up in her fate. Not even help from the creepy and mysterious soothsayers, the Weird Sisters, can give her a clue how to get out of the mess she’s in.
If Charli can’t figure out a way to fix what she’s done and get things back on track, according to the premonitions from the sisters, the future for herself and all of Honeysuckle Hollow is at stake. Will she be able to reverse the effects of her spell in time?
Published December 10th, 2020
Sledding Away with Murder (Sweetfern Harbor Mystery Book 21) by Wendy Meadows
SYNOPSIS: This winter wonderland isn’t quite so innocent after all… Determined to create a picturesque winter experience at the Sheffield Bed and Breakfast inn, Brenda Rivers eagerly awaits the arrival of her new guests for the weekend. This year brings a wide selection of visitors from all walks of life – from a soft-spoken Amish couple to a plastic surgeon and Anaesthesiologist who just can’t seem to get along. Brenda tries her best to keep the peace and make sure all her guests have a good time.
But when one of their guests turns up brutally murdered and left almost unrecognizable in the midst of a harmless sledding contest, Brenda’s hopes of a perfect weekend are shattered. With her guest’s rival going strangely quiet, his wife crying crocodile tears, and the Amish couple mysteriously coming last in a sport they claimed to be the best at, Brenda must put all of her sleuthing skills to the test if she wants to unravel the truth.
Can Brenda unmask a killer for Christmas? Or will her guest’s murder slip into the background of cold cases?
Published December 10th, 2020
Waffles at the Wake (Murder in the Mix Book 29) by Addison Moore
SYNOPSIS: It’s the dead of winter in Honey Hollow, and I’ve got jury duty. As if that wasn’t terrible enough, Carlotta is stirring up trouble with the mob again, and soon enough a member of the family ends up biting the big one. And you will never guess which ghost comes back to help me solve the crime this time… Something like this has never happened before, and I’m hoping it will never happen again. It’s cold outside, and so is the heart of the killer.
Baker Lottie Lemon has a bakery to tend to, one too many suitors, and the supernatural ability to see the dead—which are always harbingers for ominous things to come. Throw in a string of murders, and her insatiable thirst for justice, and you’ll have more chaos than you know what to do with.
Published December 10th, 2020
Holly & the Grand Opening (The Holly Lewis Mystery Series Book 10) by Dianne Harmann
SYNOPSIS: The excitement is building for the grand opening Of the long-awaited addition to the Read It Again bookstore And Holly’s in charge of making sure everything is ready for it. But when the books to be put on the shelves Are stolen from a storage unit, Her best-laid plans fall apart. Obviously, someone has a grudge against The bookstore, Holly, or the owner, Fiona. But who and why? And even worse, Holly worries that her best friend may be the one responsible And she, herself, is to blame.
December 12th, 2020
Red Roses (Hope Herring Cozy Mystery Book 4) by J. A. Whiting and Nell McCarthy
SYNOPSIS: It is February in North Carolina and Valentine’s Day is fast approaching The holidays are hard for Hope since losing her husband, and this one, in particular, will be difficult. She and her resident ghost keep looking for clues to his hundred-year old murder and as she continues to research her husband’s death, she finds things that frighten her. If all that wasn’t enough, Hope is worried about one of her students, and when one thing leads to another she ends up embroiled in a mess of a situation. Will Hope be able to keep her daughter, Cori, her student, and herself safe or will danger strike before she figures out what’s going on?
Published December 12th, 2020
The Lurid Possibility of Mystery (The Mysteries of Severine DuNoir Book 5) by Beth Byers
SYNOPSIS: December 1925.
Severine DuNoir has discovered who has been hunting her. Now she needs to discover why. As the foes circle each other, their friends and family get drawn into the conflict.
Just who can Severine trust? How can she stop the rogue? And what will happen to those she loves if she fails? She’s all too afraid the answer is one she won’t be able to live with.
Published December 13th, 2020 by
Courting Can Be A Killer (An Amish Matchmaker Mystery) by Amanda Flower
SYNOPSIS: Some Amish men don’t know what’s good for them. That’s what Millie Fisher told herself when young Ben Baughman set his heart on marrying Tess Lieb. With Tess’ father refusing to give his blessing and Tess’ ex-boyfriend being a wet blanket, the hapless couple was bound to butt heads more than Millie’s Boer goats. But when Ben tragically dies in a mysterious fire, Millie wonders if someone in her hometown of Harvest, Ohio wanted Ben out of the wedding picture altogether…With the help of her quilting buddies, and her outspoken Englischer friend Lois, Millie is determined to patch together all the clues without even dropping a stitch. She only hopes it won’t be the death of her…
Published December 14th, 2020
Ropes, Riddles & Robberies (A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery Book 15) by Tonya Kappes
SYNOPSIS: Welcome to Normal, Kentucky~ where nothing is normal. A Campers and Criminal Mystery Series is another brainchild of USA Today Bestselling Author Tonya Kappes. If you love her quirky southern characters and small town charm with a mystery to solve, you’re going to love her new cozy mystery series!
Published December 17th, 2020
The Zachery Case (Markham Sisters 26) by Diana Xarissa
SYNOPSIS: Janet Markham is looking forward to Edward Bennett’s arrival at the bed and breakfast she runs with her sister Joan. She and Edward have been seeing one another for a while now, and he’s meant to be retiring and moving to Doveby Dale for good. Joan is just anxious to get the carriage house cleared out so that she can turn it into a guest room.
When Janet moves the last few boxes and finds a skeleton, though, Joan’s plans get put on hold as the sisters find themselves caught up in a murder investigation. Inspector Harold Colbert from Derby is in charge of the case, and he doesn’t seem interested in getting any help from the sisters’ friend Robert Parsons, the local constable.
When Edward arrives, he’s eager to help with the investigation, but Harold has his own ideas about how things should be done.
Can Janet and Edward work out whose body was hidden in the carriage house? Was it murder or did the victim meet with an unfortunate accident? And will Edward finally give Janet the combination to the safe in the library?
Published December 18th, 2020
Murder Over Easy (A Sunny Side Up Cozy Mystery Book 1) by Rosie A. Point
SYNOPSIS: Murder has never been this easy…
When Sunny Charles arrives in small-town Parfait, Florida, the last thing she expects is a note from her aunt instructing her to take control of the famous Sunny Side Up Café. After going through a vicious divorce, losing her entire life savings, and, oh yeah, having the Russian mob on her tail, Sunny’s willing to give it a shot, even if it means trying her hand at cooking. Let’s face it, eggs over easy aren’t exactly ‘easy’ to make, but they beat facing off against armed men with guns.
All things considered, her first day in the café goes well, that is, until one of the customers, a food vlogger, tries her aunt’s eggs over easy and drops dead on the spot. Sunny’s set to lose the café unless she can prove her innocence. But with a handsome chef as a distraction, the creeping suspicion she’s being watched, and a detective on her case, she’s got her work cut out for her.
Can Sunny solve the mystery before the murderer stops her? Find out in this funny starter in a brand new cozy mystery series!
Published December 18th, 2020
A Fashionable Fate (Rosa the Cuban Psychic Mystery) by Ileana Munoz Rebfroe
SYNOPSIS: A psychic, a fashion gala and the death of a runway model.
Not what Boutique owner, Rosa de los Reyes hoped for when she organized the Colten Island Fashion Show.
To save the gala and stop the killer from striking again, she must use her psychic abilities, sift through the gossip at La Misteriosa and navigate increasing danger all while racing against the clock.
Will Rosa, her familiar Raul, and Las Cubanitas find the truth before the murderer kills again?
Published December 18th, 2020
Scones and Scofflaws (A Cape May Cozy Mystery, Book 1) by Jane Gorman
SYNOPSIS: When a gorgeous man dressed as Bridgette Bardot buys her a Scofflaw and asks her out on a date, Anna McGregor begins to suspect her murder investigation has taken a wrong turn. Her previous work as a medical anthropologist exposed her to a variety of unexpected situations, but none quite like this.
It all seemed so simple: fix up the Cape May Victorian mansion she’d inherited from Great Aunt Louise and re-open it as the exceptional B&B it used to be. Everything’s going great, until her very first guest turns up dead at the breakfast table, crumbs from Anna’s blueberry scones scattered on the lace tablecloth.
As the town’s gossip mill goes into overdrive, Anna leaps into the fray to save her reputation, her business and Great Aunt Louise’s legacy.
With help from a handsome handyman eager to solve all of Anna’s problems and a young police officer new to murder investigations, Anna does her best to convince the town — and her future guests — that while her scones may be killer, someone else was responsible for this murder.
Published December 20th, 2020
Murder Under the Mistletoe (A Darcy Sweet Cozy Mystery Book 30) by K. J. Emrick
SYNOPSIS: A nice family trip away for Christmas is just what Darcy Sweet needs…
There’s only one problem – trouble tends to follow her wherever she goes.
But she’s determined it won’t this time…
With her track record though, Jon is not convinced.
But hey, what does it matter?
Trouble can just as easily find her in Misty Hollow – and it frequently does.
So why shouldn’t they take some time to relax at the cozy Hideaway Inn?
And if any trouble were to happen, she can handle it…
Published December 21st, 2020
Murder in Hyde Park (A Ginger Gold Mystery Book) by Lee Strauss
SYNOPSIS: Murder’s a fashion faux pas…
The summer of 1926 brings high fashion to Hyde Park. Ginger’s Regent Street dress shop, Feathers & Flair, is a major sponsor, and when top designer Coco Chanel makes an appearance, the London fashion scene lights up.
Until a model drops dead and Miss Chanel is suspected of murder. The fashion icon hires Lady Gold Investigations to clear her name, but can Ginger discover the murderer before becoming a lifeless mannequin herself?
Published December 22nd, 2020
The Easter Sunday Slaughter (Claire Anderson Murder For All Seasons Book 2) by Imogen Plimp
SYNOPSIS: APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY FLOWERS
And a bouquet of murderous intrigue…
Amateur sleuth (and ace baker) Claire Andersen is back! Winter melts to spring in scenic Galway, Maryland, uncovering blooming friendships new and old, a shyly budding romance, the rotten stench of organized crime, and family drama more garish than Claire’s emerging blood lilies.
Settling in just fine to her new Appalachian digs (and getting the hang of this whole proprietress of a B&B thing, too!), NYC native Claire Andersen is living a cozy small town fairy tale. There are quirky local characters and adorable little shops, not to mention a kitchen full of mouth-watering baked goodies. She’s a veritable June Cleaver—if Leave It to Beaver were nestled in the mountains and June were a recently retired empty nester, that is.
There’s just one problem. Claire can hardly say “Gee, golly” before her newly-acquainted and much-beloved neighbor winds up murdered in cold blood, right before Galway’s annual Easter parade. Hot off the heels of her last murder, Claire can’t help but get involved (much to the chagrin of the well-meaning albeit bumbling town sheriff). She can hardly help herself, after all. The murder did take place right next door … and the victim’s family is staying in her B&B… Ever the hostess, poking around is the least she could do.
Little does Claire know the victim’s family is just the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the iceberg consists of age-old secrets so duplicitous, they’d make Eddie Haskell run for the hills.
Mix in Claire’s feisty sidekick Evelyn, her ever-lovable bloodhound Rupert, and a mountain of mocha and strawberry buttercream cupcakes—and Claire finds she’s in business. The sleuthing business. Perhaps even the mafia business. But she’d better tread carefully—or she’ll wind up another discarded, frozen body in the aforementioned iceberg (with a spring thaw nowhere in sight).
Published December 25th, 2020
Corgis & Conspiracy (A Dog Town USA Cozy Mystery) by Meg Muldoon
SYNOPSIS: The cozy Pacific Northwest town of Dog Mountain is happily humming this December as residents prepare for the season of light. But when celebrity and controversial pet treat industry guru Madison Shaw is found dead at the bottom of the historic Howliday Inn’s staircase one chilly morning, ace reporter Winifred Wolf finds herself covering a national story. Was Madison’s fall just a tragic accident? Or is there more to the story than meets the eye?
Published December 25th, 2020
Ink and Shadows (A Secret, Book, and Scone Novel 4) by Ellery Adams
SYNOPSIS: Nora Pennington is known for her window displays, and as Halloween approaches, she decides to showcase fictional heroines like Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Madeline Miller’s Circe. A family-values group disapproves of the magical themes, though, and wastes no time launching a modern-day witch hunt. Suddenly, former friends and customers are targeting not only Nora and Miracle Books, but a new shopkeeper, Celeste, who’s been selling CBD oil products.
Nora and her friends in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society are doing their best to put an end to the strife—but then someone puts an end to a life. Though the death is declared an accident, the ruling can’t explain the old book page covered with strange symbols and disturbing drawings left under Nora’s doormat, a postcard from an anonymous stalker, or multiple cases of vandalism.
The only hope is that Nora can be a heroine herself and lead the Secret, Book, and Scone Society in a successful investigation—before more bodies turn up and the secrets from Celeste’s past come back to haunt them all . .
Published December 26th, 2020
Wedding Cake and Widows: A Comedy Cozy Mystery by Christy Murphy
SYNOPSIS: You’re invited! It’s the wedding everyone in Fletcher Canyon has been waiting for. The bride is beautiful. The groom is nervous, and…
There’s a dead body.
But no need to worry, Mom and Christy are on the case.
Published December 26th, 2020
Murdered Mayor (High Desert Cozy Mystery Series 13) by Dianne Harmann
SYNOPSIS: The famous cowboy movie star Had become the dearly beloved mayor of Palm Springs. Too bad he was murdered. But who could have done it and what was their motive? Greed? Political rival? An environmental extremist? Son? Stepdaughter? Ex-wives? And what about his present trophy wife? Then there’s that pesky proposed desert windmill turbine project. They kill a lot of birds, And the Desert Bird Sanctuary members were certainly Against the proposal. The mayor’s vote was needed to approve it. Maybe he was going to vote against it. Was that why Monty Madsen was murdered? And maybe Monty wasn’t the only person in Palm Springs Who wanted to be the mayor! There’s a colorful cast of characters, But only one of them is a murderer.
Join Marty, her husband, Detective Jeff Combs, and their psychic boxer dog, Patron, as they determine not only who had the motive, but also who had the means.
Published December 26th, 2020
Sweet Violet’s Ghost (A Sweet Cove Mystery Book 19) by J. A. Whiting
SYNOPSIS: It is September in Sweet Cove and Angie and Jenna are taking a walk after work to the town park and up the hill to the cemetery overlooking the ocean. Their daughters are growing fast and are already crawling and saying words. Angie and Jenna take the girls out of the strollers so they can play on the grass, but moments later, something unexpected appears to them and it’s about to draw them into a mystery with connections that reach to another state.It will take all four of the Roseland sisters, Mr. Finch, Chief Martin, two fine felines, and a new friend to find the evil-doer responsible for ending two lives, and maybe more. Will they find the answers they need before it’s too late?
Published December 26th, 2020
Prime Time Murder: A Humorous Cozy Mystery (Hollywood Whodunit Book) by Brittany E. Brinegar
SYNOPSIS: She’s little. She’s feisty. Spoiler alert, she’s not the killer.
Move to Hollywood. Catch her big break. Become a movie star. Nowhere on Becky Robinson’s to-do list does it say discover a dead body or become the prime suspect.
Becky’s first day on set is anything but glamorous. Between coffee runs and walking the star dog, she discovers the body of a prominent actress. Not exactly how she pictured seeing her name in the papers. And they didn’t even spell it right.
After finding evidence at the crime scene, the cops are on her trail and a Hollywood hunk is in the hot seat.
To clear her name and discover whodunit, Becky rubs elbows with Tinseltown insiders. With the help of her best friend and an adorable puppy, they attempt to expose the killer before he claims his next victim.
Published December 26th, 2020
Chilled to the Cone (A Bakeshop Mystery, 12)by Ellie Alexander
SYNOPSIS: The deep freeze has thawed in Ashland, Oregon and Torte is gearing up for a busy spring. When a surprise opportunity to launch a pop-up ice cream shop comes her way, Jules jumps at the chance to showcase Torte’s signature iced drinks and cold custards. But selling the desserts of her dreams comes at a price. . .and, before she knows it, Jules’s life swirls into a nightmare. One of the town’s most colorful characters, a street performer known for wearing capes and a cone-shaped hat, turns up dead just as Torte 2.0 is set to open its doors. Can Jules get the scoop on what happened to “The Wizard” of Ashland before her new business venture reaches a chilling conclusion
Published December 29th, 2020
Closely Harbored Secrets (Seaside Cafe Mystery Book 5) by Bree Baker
SYNOPSIS: It’s almost Halloween, and the small island of Charm, North Carolina is decked out for the festivities. When Everly Swan agrees to close her iced tea shop early to help her aunts host their annual haunted historic walking tour, she expects some good-natured spooks. But the night turns grave when one of the ghostly actors is found dead. To complicate matters, the victim scratched Everly’s name into the ground before she died, making her a key suspect.
The murder mystery heats up when Everly’s potential boo, Detective Grady, takes the case—and he definitely doesn’t want her getting involved. Will their seaside romance be threatened by all the ghostly drama? But when a phantom sailor straight out of local legend starts leaving Everly threatening messages, she has to get involved… With a local election under way, ghosts on the loose, and a search for long-lost buried treasure, Everly can’t help but stir the pot!
Published December 29th, 2020
A Purr-fect Storm (Meow for Murder Book 6) by Addison Moore and Bellamy Bloom
SYNOPSIS: Confession. I’m no psychic. But I can sort of see the future—albeit not accurately. And you better believe, I’ve never let that little detail stop me from prognosticating my way into a pickle. So when I ticked off the mob, the feds, and my wily ex, I decided to take my Uncle Vinnie’s advice and start over with a new name and new hair color while relying on my old shtick—getting my psychic wires crossed and putting myself in danger.
It’s beginning to look a lot like murder. It’s winter in Starry Falls, the snow is falling and the mobsters are coming in strong. My freedom is in the balance and the only question on my mind is should I stay or should I go now? Shep is willing to risk it all for me—and a thank you, I might just get us both killed.
Living in Starry Falls is proving to be deadly.
Published December 30th, 2020
Marvellous Mary Brown and the Mysterious Manhunt (Mary Brown Mysteries 2) by Bernice Bloom
SYNOPSIS: Mysterious Manhunt continues the story, as Mary and the unlikely Mysterious Invitation crowd head off in search of a missing family. There are twists and turns and moments of madness. Featuring Juan Pablo on the stage, her boyfriend, Ted, in a fight and Mary Brown in the middle of it all, wondering what in the name of the lord she’s got herself all caught up in…
Mary proves herself to be super sleuth extraordinaire as she finds the clues to help crack the code. But will it be enough?
Published December 31st, 2020
Let’s Bake A Deal (Twin Berry Bakery Book 2)by Wendy Meadows
SYNOPSIS: Rita and Rhonda Knight set out to enjoy the annual Clovedale Falls Pumpkin Festival. They arrive at the local fairgrounds on a crisp autumn morning full of excitement. With their purses full of money and the morning ahead of them, what could possibly go wrong? Only murder.
When Sheriff Bluestone shows up at the festival and tells Rita and Rhonda that a murder had taken place at the remote Clovedale Falls Retirement Home mansion, a dark cloud rolls over the fun morning. Suddenly, the smell of pumpkin pies, funnel cakes, and apple cider is replaced by the foul stench of crime, involving uncaring kitchen staff and suspicious nurses…and one innocent old man who can barely remember his own name. Together, Rhonda and Rita dive into a mystery that takes them into a mansion filled with secrets and heartbreaking truths as they track down a killer lurking in the shadows.
Will the Knight sisters solve a murder and prove the innocence of an old man, and reveal the secret histories that have brought these shadows down on their beautiful autumn day? Or will they fall victim to a hideous crime and never be remembered again?
Published December 31st, 2020
Are any of these on your wishlist? What’s your favourite Cozy Mystery Series? Let me know in the comments.
Wow. I can’t quite believe that I’m writing this and that I’ve now done a year of Emma’s Anticipated Treasures. I’ve loved doing these posts and plan to keep it going through 2021, including a list of some of my most anticipated books of next year being posted on December.
December is probably the quietest month I’ve seen this year for book releases, while January is jam-packed full of so many that I’m dreading selecting my most anticipated. But there’s still some great books out before the year ends. Here are the ones I’m most excited about:
The Last Resort by Susi Holliday
Published: December 1st, 2020 Publisher: Thomas & Mercer Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One perfect crime.
When Amelia is invited to an all-expenses-paid retreat on a private island, the mysterious offer is too good to refuse. Along with six other strangers, she’s told they’re here to test a brand-new product for Timeo Technologies. But the guests’ excitement soon turns to terror when the real reason for their summons becomes clear.
Each guest has a guilty secret. And when they’re all forced to wear a memory-tracking device that reveals their dark and shameful deeds to their fellow guests, there’s no hiding from the past. This is no luxury retreat—it’s a trap they can’t get out of.
As the clock counts down to the lavish end-of-day party they’ve been promised, injuries and in-fighting split the group. But with no escape from the island—or the other guests’ most shocking secrets—Amelia begins to suspect that her only hope for survival is to be the last one standing. Can she confront her own dark past to uncover the truth—before it’s too late to get out?
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: A claustrophobic setting with no escape? ✅ People hiding guilty secrets? ✅ Wintery location? ✅ Check. Written by a fantastic thriller writer who’s last book was amazing? ✅ This book has all the ingredients for an amazing winter thriller that I can’t wait to read. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: Growing old disgracefully and having a grand old time…
Billy and Dawnie may be in their seventies, but that won’t stop them taking chances or starting again. Their grown-up children have families and lives of their own, so now it’s Billy and Dawnie’s turn, and a life near the sea in Devon beckons.
But the residents of Margot Street (or Maggot Street as Dawnie insists on calling it), don’t quite know what to make of their new neighbours. Billy’s loud, shiny and huge Harley Davidson looks out of place next to the safe and sensible Honda Jazz next door, and Dawnie’s never-ending range of outrageous wigs and colourful clothes, means she’s impossible to miss.
As new friendships are formed and new adventures are shared, Billy and Dawnie start winning their neighbours’ affection. And when life teaches them all a terrible lesson, the folks of Margot Street are determined to live every day as if it’s their last.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I’ve become a big fan of “pensioners on the pages” and this one sounds like a fun, uplifting read. Pre-order here.
Dark Falls (Detective Megan Carpenter 3)byGregg Olsen
Published: December 4th, 2020 Publisher: Bookouture Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Hardboiled, Police Procedural, Crime Series
SYNOPSIS: One bath wall is a mural of a brilliant-yellow sunflower. The theme carries over to the shower curtains, but the yellow vinyl is spattered with red blotches. Propped against the mirror is a South Kitsap High School photo of a teenaged girl.
Detective Megan Carpenter is no stranger to horrifying crime scenes, but when she arrives at the home of a woman whose body has been brutalized, Megan is shocked to discover that she knows the victim. Monique Delmont helped Megan when she was in danger years ago. And the killer has left a disturbing calling card… two laminated photographs of a sixteen-year-old high school girl – Megan.
Someone is taunting her in the worst way possible and Megan is convinced she knows who is responsible. She just has to find him.
With the help of her new partner, Deputy Ronnie Marsh, Megan begins to unravel the clues that will lead them to the killer including links to three female murder cases from nearly twenty years ago – one of which was Monique’s daughter.
But to protect those closest to her, Megan must continue to hide the dark truth of her past, even if that means lying to her team about her connection to Monique.
When two photographs of a teenage Megan are found at her boyfriend’s place in Snow Creek, she knows the killer is circling and ready to strike again.
Can she get to him before he finds her? And will she pay the ultimate price for trying to keep her terrifying past buried?
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I’m been a fan of the first two books in this series and can’t wait to see where the author takes the protagonist next. You can read my reviews for the first two books here: Book 1, Book 2. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.
Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I’ve heard this one be compared to her outstanding thriller Verity, which I absolutely loved, so this one is a must read for me. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY?
Amy has only ever known life in the Clearing. She knows what’s expected of her. She knows what to do to please her elders, and how to make sure the community remains happy and calm. That is, until a new young girl joins the group. She isn’t fitting in; she doesn’t want to stay. What happens next will turn life as Amy knows it on its head.
Freya has gone to great lengths to feel like a ‘normal person’. In fact, if you saw her go about her day with her young son, you’d think she was an everyday mum. That is, until a young girl goes missing and someone from her past, someone she hasn’t seen for a very long time, arrives in town.
As secrets of the past bubble up to the surface, this small town’s dark secrets will be exposed and lives will be destroyed.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I loved J. P. Pomare’s debut, Call Me Evie, and have been been eagerly anticipating the follow up ever since. Pre-order here.
Out For Blood (DI Eve Hunter 2) by Deborah Masson
Published: December 10th, 2020 Publisher: Corgi Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Police Procedural, Urban Fiction, Crime Series
SYNOPSIS: DI Eve Hunter is back in the edge-of-your-seat new detective thriller from Deborah Masson, winning author of the Bloody Scotland Crime Debut of the Year 2020.
A young man, the son of an influential businessman, is discovered dead in his central Aberdeen apartment.
Hours later, a teenaged girl with no identification is found hanged in a suspected suicide.
As DI Eve Hunter and her team investigate the two cases, they find themselves in a tug-of-war between privilege and poverty; between the elite and those on the fringes of society.
Then an unexpected breakthrough leads them to the shocking conclusion: that those in power have been at the top for too long – and now, someone is going to desperate lengths to bring them down…
Can they stop someone who is dead set on revenge, no matter the cost?
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: Hold Your Tongue was one of my favourite thrillers of 2019 and a sensational start to a new series. I’ve been looking forward to the follow up since I read the last line and am excited that it’s almost here. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: A Man Called Ove meets The Rosie Project in this delightfully off-kilter (Rachel Yoder, Nightbitch) tale of a grumpy introvert, her astonishing lack of social skills and empirical data-driven approach to people and relationships.
Is there such a thing as an anti-social butterfly? If there were, Greta Oto would know about it–and totally relate. An entomologist, Greta far prefers the company of bugs to humans, and that’s okay, because people don’t seem to like her all that much anyway, with the exception of her twin brother, Danny, though they’ve recently had a falling out. So when she lands a research gig in the rainforest, she leaves it all behind. But when Greta learns that Danny has suffered an aneurysm and is now hospitalized, she abandons her research and hurries home to the middle of nowhere America to be there for her brother. But there’s only so much she can do, and unfortunately just like insects, humans don’t stay cooped up in their hives either–they buzz about and… socialize. Coming home means confronting all that she left behind, including her lousy soon-to-be sister-in-law, her estranged mother, and her ex-boyfriend Brandon who has conveniently found a new non-lab-exclusive partner with shiny hair, perfect teeth, and can actually remember the names of the people she meets right away. Being that Brandon runs the only butterfly conservatory in town, and her dissertation is now in jeopardy, taking that job, being back home, it’s all creating chaos of Greta’s perfectly catalogued and compartmentalized world. But real life is messy, and Greta will have to ask herself if she has the courage to open up for the people she loves, and for those who want to love her.
The Butterfly Effect is an unconventional tale of self-discovery, navigating relationships, and how sometimes it takes stepping outside of our comfort zone to find what we need the most.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I’ll admit that my love of anything butterfly-related and the bright cover was what initially drew me to this one, but the compelling synopsis is why it is on my most anticipated list. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: Don’t close your eyes. Don’t fall asleep. Don’t let them in.
Thea is an insomniac; she hasn’t slept more than three hours a night for years.
So when an ad for a sleep trial that promises to change her life pops up on her phone, Thea knows this is her last chance at finding any kind of normal life.
Soon Thea’s sleeping for longer than she has in a decade, and awakes feeling transformed. So much so that at first she’s willing to overlook the oddities of the trial – the lack of any phone signal; the way she can’t leave her bedroom without permission; the fact that all her personal possessions are locked away, even her shoes.
But it soon becomes clear that the trial doesn’t just want to help Thea sleep. It wants to control her sleep…
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: As soon as I read the synopsis for this book I pre-ordered it. My only worry is I’ll be up all night reading it. Pre-order here.
Deity (Six Stories 6) by Matt Wesolowski
Published: December 18th, 2020 Publisher: Orenda Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction, Urban Fiction, Book Series
SYNOPSIS: Online investigative journalist Scott King investigates the death of a pop megastar, the subject of multiple accusations of sexual abuse and murder before his untimely demise in a fire … another episode of the startlingly original, award-winning Six Stories series.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: It’s no secret how much I love Orenda books and Matt Wesolowski become an instant must-read when I read Beast, the last installment in this series. I’ve been counting down to the next one ever since. Pre-order here.
The Spiral by Iain Ryan
Published: December 24th, 2020 Publisher: Bonnier Books UK Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
SYNOPSIS: ENTER THE SPIRAL. FIND THE TRUTH.
Erma Bridges’ life is far from perfect, but entirely ordinary. So when she is shot twice in a targetted attack by a colleague, her quiet existence is shattered in an instant.
With her would-be murderer dead, no one can give Erma the answers she needs to move on from her trauma. Why her? Why now?
So begins Erma’s quest for the truth – and a dangerous, spiralling journey into the heart of darkness.
With all the inventiveness of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and the raw brutality of Mulholland Drive, THE SPIRAL is a unique crime thriller with killer twists – and 2020’s most jaw-dropping ending.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: Earlier this year I signed up for updates on this book from the publisher and the trickle of clues arriving in my inbox regularly has me eagerly awaiting finally getting the chance to read the book. Pre-order here.
The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher
Published: December 29th, 2020 Publisher: Graydon House Ltd Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller
SYNOPSIS: Have you ever been wrong about someone? Juno was wrong about Winnie Crouch. Before moving in with the Crouch family, Juno thought Winnie and her husband, Nigel, had the perfect marriage, the perfect son–the perfect life. Only now that she’s living in their beautiful house, she sees the cracks in the crumbling facade are too deep to ignore. Still, she isn’t one to judge. After her grim diagnosis, the retired therapist simply wants a place to live out the rest of her days in peace. But that peace is shattered the day Juno overhears a chilling conversation between Winnie and Nigel… She shouldn’t get involved. She really shouldn’t. But this could be her chance to make a few things right. Because if you thought Juno didn’t have a secret of her own, then you were wrong about her, too.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I’ve heard a lot of great things about Tarryn Fisher and have been meaning to read her books for a while. This sounds like a gripping thriller and a great introduction to her work. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: WRONG JOB Eighteen-year-old Evelyn Jones lands a job in small-town Alaska, working for a man in his isolated mountain home. But her bright hopes for the future are shattered when Donald White disappears, leaving her to face charges of theft, embezzlement–and a brutal double murder. Her protestations of innocence count for nothing. Convicted, she faces life in prison…until fate sends her on the run. WRONG NAME Evie’s escape leaves her scarred and in hiding, isolated from her family, working under an alias at a wilderness camp. Bent on justice, intent on recovering her life, she searches for the killer who slaughters without remorse. WRONG ALIBI At last, the day comes. Donald White has returned. Evie emerges from hiding; the fugitive becomes the hunter. But in her mind, she hears the whisper of other forces at work. Now Evelyn must untangle the threads of evidence before she’s once again found with blood on her hands: the blood of her own family…
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: Christina Dodd is another author I’ve been meaning to read for a while. Everything about this book makes me want to read it immediately: from the chilling synopsis to the striking cover. Pre-order here.
Today I’m sharing an extract from the first chapter of Secrets in the Dark, the second book in the Black Winter Series. Thank you to Amber at Midas PR for the invitation to take part.
“CLARE? IF YOU’RE THERE, please answer. It’s me. Beth.” Clare stood at Winterbourne Hall’s kitchen sink as she stared, shocked, at the crackling radio. Gusts of freezing wind howled through gaps in the old mansion’s stone walls. Even wrapped in the cotton dress she’d inherited from one of the manor’s former maids and a fur jacket borrowed from Dorran, the kitchen would have been too cold for her without the fire. The blaze both warmed and illuminated the room, bathing Clare and Dorran in its orange glow. Dorran stood close enough to touch. He still wore bruises and scratches from the monsters that inhabited Winterbourne, but his dark eyes shone in the candlelight as he looked toward the radio. “Beth…” Clare’s heart missed a beat, then returned with a vengeance, thumping furiously until her pulse was all she could hear. The last time she’d spoken to Beth, she’d been driving to her sister’s house in an attempt to escape the spreading stillness. That had only been seventeen days before. It felt like half a lifetime. She had kept the radio running constantly since she’d retrieved it from her car, but her hope of hearing from Beth had been whittled down to almost nothing. Dorran moved first. He strode around the wide wooden table filling the kitchen’s center and snatched the two- way radio off the shelf, then returned and placed it on the table in front of Clare. He didn’t try to speak but bent forward to listen, watching expectantly. The radio crackled. Clare struggled to breathe. In a flurry of urgent panic, she dropped the dish towel and darted forward, then pressed the button to transmit her voice. “Beth? Beth, I’m here. It’s me. I’m here.” She released the button and bent close to the speakers. Her hands were shaking. Her throat was tight, and every nerve in her body felt on fire with a desperate need to hear her sister’s voice again. Beth, who was the closest thing Clare had to a mother. Beth, who at the vulnerable age of twenty had taken Clare to dental checkups, to netball practice, to school recitals. Beth, who had never stopped worrying about her when she’d moved into her own home. The transmission was faint and distorted by a weak signal, but the voice was unmistakable. Beth took a gasping, hiccupping breath. “Clare? Is that you? Is it really you? She’s still alive. She’s okay. “Yes! I’m here!” Beth was crying, and Clare couldn’t stop herself from following. She wiped her sleeves over her face as tears ran. At the same time, a grin stretched her cheeks until they ached. Dorran moved silently. He nudged a chair in behind Clare so she could sit, then a moment later placed a glass of water and a clean cloth beside her. She gratefully used the cloth to wipe some of the wetness off her face. Dorran took a seat on the opposite side of the table. He was tall, towering over Clare, but he moved smoothly and carefully, even his breathing nearly silent. He folded his arms on the table, his dark eyes attentive, his black hair falling around his strong jaw, as he listened to the conversation. “Sweetheart, are you okay? Are you hurt?” Beth never called her sweetheart unless she was frightened. Clare guessed, after more than two weeks of no contact, Beth was about as frightened as she’d ever been. “Yeah, I’m fine.” That was a half- truth at best. She still had red lines running across her arm and abdomen from where the hollow ones had attacked her. She grew tired too quickly. Her muscles ached. A bite on her wrist and thigh still needed dressing every day. But she was alive. And, if the hollows were as prevalent as they seemed, that was better than what could be said for a lot of the world. “What about you?” She pulled the radio closer, struggling to make out Beth’s voice under the distortion. “Are you in your bunker? Are you okay?” “Yes, don’t worry about me. I’m in my bunker and getting thoroughly sick of staring at these four walls.” Beth laughed. “I paid for every add-on I could for this place…air filtration, water filtration, generator, aquaponics system. The only professional I didn’t think to hire was an interior decorator.” Hearing Beth’s laughter made Clare feel lighter. She couldn’t stop her own grin. “I guess people don’t really think about throw rugs and wall hangings when they imagine the end of the world, do they?” Beth chuckled, but the noise didn’t sound quite natural. Clare’s own smile faded. For a moment, the only noise in the kitchen was the soft static and a distant drip. “It’s all gone to hell, sweetheart.” Beth’s voice had lost its color. “Everything. It’s all gone.” “Yeah.” Clare swallowed. “But you’re okay. And that’s what matters.” “Are you at Marnie’s? Is she there? Can I talk to her?” The questions were like being dunked in a freezing bath. Clare closed her eyes. She took a slow breath and tried to keep her voice steady. “I never reached Marnie.” “Oh.” Clare’s aunt, Marnie, was the third piece of their tiny family. She lived on a farm two hours’ drive from Clare’s own home. On that last morning, Clare had been trying to pick Marnie up on her way to Beth’s. She’d never made it out of Banksy Forest. “Well.” Beth sounded like she was choking. “At least you’re okay. At least…at least…” “I’m so sorry.” Clare stared down at the chipped wooden counter and shivered. The kitchen no longer felt as warm as it had a moment before. There had been very little chance to think about the world outside the forest during the previous few days. But whenever she had, her mind had turned to her family and what might have happened to them. She’d felt sick every time she imagined it. She felt sick again, knowing that Marnie must have been waiting for her. Beth would have called her to say Clare was on the way. She’d probably been standing by her front door, a suitcase on one side and a cat carrier on the other. Clare could picture her easily. Brown hair that had started to develop streaks of gray. A body that had been made strong by a lifetime of working in the garden but was always a little on the plump side. She would have been wearing floral clothes and a knit cardigan, like she always did. She was a short woman but had a huge smile and an even bigger heart. Did the hollow ones get her? Was it fast, or painful and slow? A warm hand moved over hers. She met Dorran’s dark eyes as he squeezed her fingers. “But you’re okay.” Beth’s voice crackled through the radio again. She seemed to have rallied. “After your phone went out, I tried reaching you through the radio almost constantly. For days. You didn’t answer, and I thought…I thought…” “I’m so sorry. I left the radio in the car. It took me a while to get it back.” “That’s fine. You’re alive. I can forgive everything else as long as you just stay alive. Where are you? If you didn’t get to Marnie’s, does that mean you’re in your cottage? It’s not going to be safe— ” “No, no, I found a new house. It’s in Banksy Forest.” She could hear the frown in Beth’s voice. “There aren’t any houses inside the forest.” “That’s what I thought too. But it was well hidden. The owner, Dorran, is letting me stay with him.” Again, Beth hesitated. “Is he a good sort of person?” “Yes, don’t worry. He’s nice. And we have plenty of food— and a garden. Winterbourne was designed to be self- sufficient and it’s hard to break into. I was lucky. Really lucky.” “Be careful, Clare. Don’t trust him just because he’s friendly.” Clare looked down at her hand, which was still enveloped in Dorran’s. She followed it along his arm, covered by the green knit sweater, and up to his face. Thick black hair, grown a little too long, framed a strong, reserved face. His dark eyes, shadowed under a heavy brow, smiled at her. She thought there was no one she trusted more. “He’s good, I promise. You don’t need to worry about me. How are you doing there?” “Holding up at least.” There was a speck of hesitation in Beth’s voice. Clare frowned. “Are you sure? Do you have enough food and water?” “Yes, that’s all fine. But the generator’s out. I’ve been trying to fix it, but it’s been a challenge without the lights.” A chill ran through Clare. She pictured Beth, sitting in a dark box, having to feel her way through the space every time she needed food or the bathroom or water. There would be nothing to see. Nothing to do. Just her, alone, listening to the seconds tick by. “I’m doing fine, sweetheart.” Her voice took on the familiar hint of warning she used whenever Clare was doing something she didn’t approve of. “I have a flashlight. I’m using it judiciously— apparently an excess of batteries still isn’t enough— but I’m hardly suffering down here.” Clare wasn’t sure if she could believe that. But she tried to keep her voice bright for Beth’s sake. “We can talk on the radio as much as you want. I can carry you around with me and keep you company.” Beth laughed. “Oh, that would be fun. But I think it’s better if we keep our chats short.” That was unexpected. “Why?” “Ah…” “Tell me, Beth.” “Too much noise attracts them.” Dorran’s fingers laced through Clare’s, trying to reassure her. She barely felt it. Her hands were turning numb. “The hollow?” “Yeah.” Beth’s voice cracked. “I was the only person on my street who had a bunker.” Clare understood. Without shelter, all of Beth’s neighbors would have been affected by the stillness. Under the static’s crackles and her own too- fast breathing, Clare thought she heard another sound. The noise had dogged her for weeks, following her even into her sleep, and every fiber of her being revolted against it. Fingernails, digging. Clawing. Scratching. They were at Beth’s bunker door. They’d heard them. They were hungry.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Darcy is the USA Today Bestselling author of Hunted, The Haunting of Ashburn House, Craven Manor, and more than a dozen horror and suspense titles.She lives on the Central Coast of Australia with her family, cats, and a garden full of herbs and vegetables. Darcy loves forests, especially old-growth forests where the trees dwarf anyone who steps between them. Wherever she lives, she tries to have a mountain range close by.