Three new mysteries toy with family ties, love and loyalty. How far would you go to protect a family secret? What do you stand to lose if it’s revealed? Those themes lead to deliciously twisted complications.
IN A SHALLOW GRAVE
The Butcher opens with a bombshell revelation, and more and more hits soon follow. Seattle police chief Edward Shank made his reputation when he shot and killed the notorious serial killer known as the “Beacon Hill Butcher.” Shank, now retired, gives his big house to grandson Matt, who finds a box on the property that leads him to suspect his grandfather was involved in the crimes. The accidental deaths in Shank's retirement home also point his way. Matt’s girlfriend Samantha, a true crime author, has a personal connection to the crimes and believes the Butcher may still be at large. Author Jennifer Hillier (Creep, Freak) balances a grisly story with a tasty subplot involving Matt’s meteoric rise from restaurateur to celebrity chef, a burst of star power he can’t afford to tarnish with the revelation that . . . well, you'll have to read for yourself. The Butcher is as dark and chilling as its Seattle setting.
ONLINE SEARCH AND RESCUE
Holly Brown’s Don’t Try To Find Me is a thriller based in bucolic, rural Northern California. When 14-year-old Marley runs away from home, her parents, Paul and Rachel, use social media to campaign for her return. Paul goes all in, but Rachel’s efforts appear halfhearted, and online speculation about her involvement goes viral. We can see what Rachel can’t, since roughly half the chapters are told from Marley’s point of view—she has run away to what she thinks is true love with a boy she met online, but in reality is not so simple. Considering what she’s up against, it’s fair to wish her mother would get on the ball a bit faster. The rescue effort keeps the story urgent and forces constant reassessment of who’s actually good or bad; many of the family’s troubles stem from someone whose good intentions turn out to be anything but. Try to put down Don’t Try To Find Me—you’ll find it's not easy.
BETRAYAL AND REVENGE
I Love You More layers lies upon deceit, then peels them away like veils. Oliver Lane’s murder looks like a simple case of a woman scorned—in this case, his wife, Diana. But investigators don’t have to dig deep to find a second wife, and then a third, both of whom have families headed by Oliver. One detective falls hard for Diana and finds himself sympathizing with her 12-year-old daughter, Picasso, but still hopes to crack the case. Was it a conspiracy among the wives, or did karma simply claim its due from a dangerous sociopath? Author Jennifer Murphy tells this eerie tale from multiple points of view, and the detective’s hard-boiled cynicism contrasts with the Wives, who speak as one, as well as Picasso’s innocence and precocity. I Love You More is a genuine whodunit that will keep you guessing, and the North Carolina setting may find you craving a glass of sweet tea and porch swing on which to lose yourself while reading.
Heather Seggel reads too much and writes all about it in Northern California.