An enjoyable and intriguing novel that will keep readers engaged until the final page.

PHANTOM OF EXECUTION ROCKS

Miller offers a romantic mystery that dives deep into Long Island history.

Luce Porter is a TV producer whose tongue is as sharp as her wit. She’s had her share of romantic missteps, and at this point, no man can get under her skin—well, almost no man. Andy Holman, a gorgeous New York City police detective who arrested her for a minor infraction 10 years prior, still manages to push her buttons. He uses personal connections to score invites for Luce and her TV crew—including her new intern, Kat Downing—to the Annual Ghost Ship Mystery Dinner, hosted by eccentric society matriarch Adeline Bowers on Long Island Sound. They learn about “the Phantom,” aka the MorningStar, a ship that vanished off the coast of Long Island in 1790, allegedly resulting in the deaths of all but one of the passengers onboard. It’s contents and purpose were unknown, but clues suggest that it was involved in the slave trade. Many people have claimed sightings of the vessel over the years. As Luce and Andy try to unravel the mystery of the MorningStar, they run into people who are determined to bury the truth—and possibly anyone standing in their way. Miller presents a tightly written mystery that will keep readers guessing as well as a romance that’s full of sassy banter and sexual tension. But her novel offers much more, as she bases the story on the actual history of the Execution Rocks Light, a lighthouse with a complicated legacy, and reveals uncommon knowledge about the North’s involvement in the buying and selling of enslaved people. It also addresses disability-related issues that Kat, who uses a wheelchair, faces in her daily life. Overall, Miller delivers a story that’s substantial and relevant despite its lighthearted moments. Some may find the resolution of Luce and Andy’s romance unsatisfying, but the happy ending will have readers excited for a potential sequel.

An enjoyable and intriguing novel that will keep readers engaged until the final page.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73610-110-0

Page Count: 236

Publisher: Pendant Cove

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2021

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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