THE WAYS OF THE DEAD by Neely Tucker

June 12, 2014

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Sarah Reese was murdered in a bad neighborhood in Washington D.C. while waiting for her mother to pick her up from dance class. She was not the first girl to die in the area, but she was the first white girl, setting off a storm of media attention.

Three young African American men had been taunting her before she ran off, and they were easy arrests for the police anxious to solve the case. But reporter Sully Carter pieces together a more likely scenario of a serial killer, based on the number of young women missing and dead in the area. His bosses at the paper and the police don’t agree but he sticks to his guns and does his own investigation, fighting authority every step of the way.

If this story sounds familiar, it should – it is based on the Princeton Place murders that occurred in the late 1990’s. Tucker is a journalist and placing her story back in the 90’s time frame allows the newspaper to be the place for news, rather than the way the Internet is today.

Carter is a great character with enough baggage and intrigue to keep around for more stories. Reminiscent of George Pelecanos’ Washington D.C., Tucker writes about the gritty urban city rife with racism and blight rather than the usual political chicanery. This riveting debut novel should spawn a series.

Copyright ©2014 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

8/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE WAYS OF THE DEAD by Neely Tucker. Viking Adult (June 12, 2014). ISBN 978-0670016587. 288p.


June 2, 2014

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Clare Taylor gave up her fledgling acting career to be a wife and mother, but after a wild week away from her family, she returns home to find an empty house, her family gone, everything gone. As she walks through empty house to the yard, she finds the body of the family dog, eviscerated.

Thinking it is a Halloween prank gone terribly wrong, she awakens the next morning to find the sheriff waiting to padlock the foreclosed home that she believed they owned free and clear. Then a childhood friend of her husband Danny is found dead in the yard, and things become even more frightening and complicated, going back to a Halloween fire when Danny was in high school.

The story moves back and forth from that high school event to present day, but mistaken identities are at the crux of the story, and all the confusion is eventually sorted out. These are complex characters in a story that seems to circumvent logic, yet Hughes makes it all work. Readers who appreciate family thrillers from writers like Harlan Coben or Linwood Barclay will find much to enjoy here.

Copyright ©2014 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

6/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE by Declan Hughes. Severn House Publishers; Sew edition (June 1, 2014). ISBN 978-0727883711. 288p.


RUIN FALLS by Jenny Milchman

April 22, 2014

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Liz and Paul Daniels have two young children and live a fairly idyllic life on an organic family farm. Paul is a professor who is determined to live a green, postconsumer lifestyle and Liz goes along with it as much as possible.

They take their first family vacation in years, a road trip to visit Paul’s parents on their commercial farm but stop at a hotel along the way. When Liz wakes up, her children are gone, and then Paul disappears, too.

The police immediately abandon their search, considering it a domestic dispute, and Liz is heartbroken, yet furious. She is determined to find her children, and begins her search with her in-laws, who deny any knowledge of their son or grandchildren. Liz soon heads home to her husband’s computer and his office at the university and quickly realizes that she doesn’t know her husband at all. Her best friend tries to help but she has her own hands full with a son who has suffered a traumatic brain injury.

How far Paul will go to live his politics and how a determined mother can seemingly overcome almost any obstacle is at the heart of this tautly written page-turner. Milchman proves her chops with her sophomore effort and she carves out a new niche with this unusual environmental family thriller.

Copyright ©2014 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

2/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

RUIN FALLS by Jenny Milchman. Ballantine Books (April 22, 2014). ISBN 978-0345549075. 352p.

INFLUX by Daniel Suarez

February 20, 2014

A theme last seen in science fiction’s pulp era was that of “suppressed inventions”, i.e.; cars getting 1000 miles from a pint of alcohol, anti-gravity travel, pills and plants curing most major diseases for little or no cost. These discoveries were suppressed by people not wanting to lose high revenues from current methods and having the inventions take over the situation.

Suarez creates a U.S. government agency titled The Bureau of Technology Control. They are charged with ascertaining orderly progress in society by withholding or suppression of advanced findings in order to maintain social structure that does not rocket past what should be the ordinary rate of progress. The BTC has thrown off all U.S. government control and holds in secret technology that puts them at least 50 years beyond the rest of the world.

Jon Grady, a particle scientist, and his team come up with perfecting a device that will reflect gravity. This should bring him worldwide acclaim, but instead causes him to be swept up into the path of the Bureau of Technology Control that offers him a chance to work on his invention under their supervision and control. Jon refuses and is thrown into a high tech prison maintained by the BTC.

How he escapes and gets into contact with other prisoners that have refused to follow BTC dictates places the reader into one of the most imaginative and fascinating plots in science fiction to date. What happens to an agency set up to maintain orderly progression in society that places itself outside of the control of any other ordinary organization is certainly a study in Machiavellian cause and effect. Well done novel by Suarez, who has done several other books involving high technology and its consequences while not under control.

2/14 Paul Lane

INFLUX by Daniel Suarez. Dutton Adult (February 20, 2014). ISBN 978-0525953180. 416p