A promising, poignant whodunit.

READ REVIEW

A DIFFERENT KIND OF LOVE

A debut murder mystery focuses on complicated relationships.

The novel’s opening scene lays out the crisis Betty-Jean Garrett must endure when the narrative builds to its denouement. She awakens with a premonition that something bad has happened, and a phone call from her father saying there’s a family emergency confirms it. The story revolves around Betty-Jean and her older sister, Margaret. The two are best friends, with Betty-Jean being the impulsive one and Margaret, the levelheaded, responsible sister. The narrative meanders slowly back through the recent past, detailing the lives of the sisters, their friends, and especially their lovers—Tim Harrison, Betty-Jean’s handsome fitness-trainer husband, and Sherry Larson, Margaret’s secret lesbian girlfriend, a highly successful but deeply troubled ad executive. Sherry, who grew up in an orphanage, has a violent backstory. Repeatedly raped by the orphanage’s janitor, she bonded with Priscilla, a fellow orphan. Misinterpreting their friendship, Sherry propositioned her only to have an angry Priscilla embarrass her “in front of some of the girls…. ‘I thought you was a queer. You stay away from me, you freak.’ ” Margaret meets Sherry in a gay bar while on a business trip. A mystery man has been sending Sherry bouquets of roses. Then a crank caller becomes more threatening and begins murdering people Sherry knows, including her therapist. In this engaging mystery, Plummer offers several likely suspects, such as Gilbert Daggett, Sherry’s homophobic account executive who tells lesbian jokes when she is within earshot. Readers are kept guessing right up to the surprise conclusion. Although the dialogue has its snappy moments, as when Betty-Jean explains why she is shopping—“I needed some retail therapy”—it suffers from an overusage of “he said”/“she said” when it is obvious who is speaking. But the author deftly articulates many gay people’s fear of being out when Margaret tells Sherry: “We’re still being ridiculed, and even getting killed for being gay....some kids are still being bullied to the point of suicide.”

A promising, poignant whodunit.

Pub Date: May 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4809-2044-6

Page Count: 758

Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2018

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

THE DECEPTION

A successful businesswoman hires a smooth-talking bounty hunter to find a lead on her sister’s murder.

Kate Gallagher was the only one available to identify her younger sister Chrissy’s body after she was found dead, having run away from home two years earlier. Since Chrissy succumbed to drugs and turned to sex work to survive, her murder isn't taken seriously by the local homicide department. Kate is filled with grief and regret at not having been there for her sister, and she’s determined to find her killer as a kind of penance. Jason Maddox is the charming man Kate almost hooked up with at a local bar. He also happens to be on the payroll of the most successful investigation company in Dallas. He’s all too eager to help Kate out and spend more time getting to know the blonde he danced with at the Sagebrush Saloon. At first, Kate and Jason vow to keep things professional until the case is solved; there’s obvious attraction that they’re willing to pursue at a later date. But the increasing sense of danger mixed with Kate and Jason’s close proximity proves to be too heady of a combination. The tension never lets up as the pair visit seedy bars and interrogate unsavory characters. With a steamy romance and undeniably hot chemistry, the main characters are well matched. They’re both driven, slightly stubborn, and enjoy the adrenaline rush of catching criminals. Martin (The Conspiracy, 2019, etc.) doesn’t skimp on graphic, violent details as Chrissy’s murder leads her couple to something much bigger: human trafficking. Though not for the faint of heart given its weighty material, this is an un-put-down-able page-turner that’s sure to satisfy fans of romance and thrillers alike.

A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00769-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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