A Taste For Nightshade by Martine Bailey (Thomas Dunne Books) Bailey’s strong heroines, Grace and Mary, may not be equally appealing but both find themselves at the mercy of Michael Croxton, the calculating and privileged heir of a wealthy businessman. Croxton’s heartless dealings with Mary result in her imprisonment and come back to haunt his wife, Grace, when she unwittingly employs vengeance-seeking Mary as the household’s cook. As Grace’s naïve hope for a happy marriage crumble, her burgeoning friendship with Mary threatens to destroy them all. A Taste for Nightshade is an intoxicating and suspenseful novel filled with sumptuous period recipes and well-researched historical details that make it a delightful read.
Beside Myself by Ann Morgan (Bloomsbury USA) While we’re accustomed to the idea of identity theft, most of us think about replacing credit cards and securing passwords and other sensitive information. Ann Morgan’s brilliant debut, Beside Myself, takes it to a completely different level when a seemingly innocent game between sisters has drastic and life changing consequences. When Ellie assumes the role of her identical twin, and better-loved sister, Helen, the real Helen is left to muddle through a life with fewer prospects and resources than her favored former self. Morgan’s finely attuned examination of the components of identity, sibling rivalry, and mental illness delivers a riveting psychological thriller that’s nearly impossible to set aside.
Couple Mechanics by Nelly Alard (Other Press) Couple Mechanics is a small book in that it covers a very narrow slice of territory: an extramarital affair and the damage it wreaks on a couple’s relationship. There are larger points about marriage, desire, trust, and parenting, but the plot intently follows the immediate aftermath of the affair and how it plays out. There are times when the book gets a little repetitive, given the subject matter, but Alard is a great writer who misses absolutely nothing. If you enjoy novels about marriage and stories with many starts and a slow speed that gives you an excellent view out the window – then you’ll like this one. It’s a first class ticket to someone else’s train wreck.
After The Crash by Michel Bussi (Hachette Books) Michel Bussi’s utterly absorbing mystery centers around the infant survivor of a deadly plane crash that kills all the other passengers. The trouble begins when as two families step forward to claim the baby girl—one poor, and one with unlimited wealth and enough power and resources to guarantee their custody of the child. Though readers are soon apprised of the resolution, lingering questions cloud the issue, and startling revelations and steadily ratcheting suspense exist through the final pages of this intense novel about forbidden love, betrayal, and murder.