Friday, January 31, 2020

Books: New Fiction For February

Photo by Jason Schott.

As February approaches, it might be a good time to focus on that New Year's Resolution to read more, as we are still in the heart of winter. There are plenty of exciting new works of fiction out this week that we will take a look at here: Losing You by Nicci French; Perfect Little Children, by Sophie Hannah; A Cold Trail, by Robert Dugoni; A Divided Loyalty, by Charles Todd; and Promises of the Heart, by Nan Rossiter.

Losing You
By Nicci French
William Morrow; paperback, $16.99; E-book, $11.99

Nicci French is the pseudonym of English wife-and-husband team Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. They currently live in Suffolk, England, and their acclaimed novels of psychological suspense have sold more than eight million copies worldwide. They are most known for the Freida Klein series.

In this standalone work, Losing You, a woman's frantic search for her missing daughter unveils a nefarious web of secrets and lies. 

Nina Landry awakens on her fortieth birthday, anticipating a day filled with excitement. She, her new boyfriend, and her two children are taking a trip, leaving their Sandling Island home, which is off the coast of England, for a dream vacation.

As soon as her fifteen-year-old daughter, Charlie, returns from a sleepover, they can get ready to leave. She does not come back at the expected time, and Nina, who was initially annoyed by her daughter's lateness, becomes concerned as the minutes and hours tick by, and eventually has a chilling certainty that something terrible has happened.

The police isn't there isn't reason to worry - yet. Teenagers can be unreliable and impulsive, and Nina always thought she and Charlie had a solid, trusting relationship. Now, she has to reconsider that, as she seeks out Charlie's friends for clues to her whereabouts. She wonders how well she really knew her child, and if everything she doesn't know - about Charlie, her neighbors, even the friends and family closest to them - prove fatal?

Perfect Little Children
By Sophie Hannah
William Morrow; hardcover, $27.99; available Tuesday, February 4

Sophie Hannah is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous psychological thrillers, which have been published in 51 countries and adapted for television, as well as The Monogram Murders, the first Hercule Poirot novel authorized by the estate of Agatha Christie, and the follow-up, The Closed Casket.

In Perfect Little Children, Beth Leeson hasn't seen her best friend Flora Braid in over twelve years. However, while driving her son to a soccer game, Beth is overcome by curiosity and stops by Flora's house one day and catches a glimpse of the impossible - Flora's children haven't aged since she last saw them.

Beth parks outside the open gates of Newnham House and watches from across the road as Flora arrives and calls to her children Thomas and Emily to get out of the car. Except, something is terribly wrong.

Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily were five and three years old, and today, they look precisely as they did then. As Beth wrestles with the absurdity of the situation, an obsession foments inside of her. She knows what she saw, and can't seem to figure out how it's conceivable. While Beth's husband tries to discourage her from investigating the Braids' lives, Beth's daughter Zannah attempts to help her figure out the mystery of their unageing children.

Fearing that there is something terribly wrong happening to these children, Beth puts herself - and her family - at risk of danger in order to get to the bottom of the mystery, and ultimately, save Thomas and Emily.

A Cold Trail
By Robert Dugoni
Thomas & Mercer; paperback, $11.99; Audio CD, $14.99; available Tuesday, February 4

Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Amazon bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite Series, which has sold more than 4.5 million books worldwide. He is also the author of the bestselling David Sloane series; the stand-alone novels The 7th Canon, Damage Control, and The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, which was Suspense Magazine's 2018 Book of the Year.

A Cold Trail is the latest book in his riveting Tracy Crosswhite series, where this time the Seattle homicide detective confronts not only a brutal murder, but also her own haunted past. 

Tracy fled Cedar Grove after the trial for her sister's murder and her father's subsequent suicide, but now she's back in the hopes of starting over with her husband Dan, an attorney, and her baby daughter. 

However, it isn't long before she is drawn into another case. A local reporter, the wife of a police officer, is killed while investigating the cold case of a young woman with a dark secret. When Tracy realizes that the wrong person has been charged in the cold case, she tries to find the real killer and ends up in a house of mirrors that may cost her her own life.

Tracy's not the only one who's in over her head. When Dan's own case erupts, he finds himself confronting the power brokers behind Cedar Grove's revitalization, revealing an explosive truth that threatens to topple friendships, families, and the traumas that have woven everyone together for decades. 

Tracy and Dan's trails overlap as they dig deeper into the underbelly of Cedar Grove and the town's past, hoping to snag the killer before it's too late.

A Divided Loyalty: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery
By Charles Todd
William Morrow; hardcover, $28.99; available Tuesday, February 4

The latest installment of the critically acclaimed Inspector Ian Rutledge series from the New York Times bestselling mother and son writing team, Todd Charles, finds the skilled detective being confronted with one of the most baffling investigations of his career.

In A Divided Loyalty, Chief Inspector Brian Leslie, a respected colleague of Ian Rutledge's, is sent to Avebury - a village surrounded by a great prehistoric stone circle not far from Stonehenge - to get to the bottom of a gruesome scene involving the murder of a young woman next to a mysterious, figure-like stone, where no one in the village recognizes her - or admits to it.

Inspector Rutledge is left with the question of how she got there, and despite a thorough investigation, it seems like her killer has simply vanished. Rutledge has just returned from the conclusion of a case involving another apparently unknown woman, and is brought in to take a second look at Leslie's inquiry, to see if he can identify the victim.

This presents a tricky conundrum for Rutledge, as he has to walk the fine line of solving the case without showing up Leslie's failure to do so himself. There also is the suspicions Rutledge has that Chief Superintendent Jamieson only hopes to tarnish his earlier success with a similar case and sabotage the outcome of the current one.

With nothing to go on besides vague clues - a lapis lazuli necklace and a stack of letters - Rutledge struggles to find a solid lead in Avebury, just as Leslie did. Rutledge gradually expands his search beyond the village, and discovers that unlikely, possibly even unreliable clues are pointing him toward someone very close to the investigation, presenting a potential outcome that might solve the mystery, but not without drawing the wrath of the Yard in the process. Rutledge persists, risking his own life as he painstakingly gathers intel in his determination to honor the life of the tragic woman at the center of the chilling murder.  

Promises of the Heart: Savannah Skies Series, Book 1
By Nan Rossiter
Harper Paperbacks; 384 pages; $16.99; available Tuesday, February 4

Nan Rossiter is the award-winning and bestselling author of seven novels, the most recent of which, Summer Dance, was the 2018 winner of the Nancy Pearl Book Award.

Promises of the Heart, a charming and satisfying emotional journey sure to tug at the heartstrings, is the first installment of Rossiter's Savannah Skies series. It is the moving story of a couple struggling to start a family and the young foster girl with a heart condition who changes their lives forever.

Macey and Ben Samuelson have much to be thankful for: great friends, a beautiful Victorian house on idyllic Tybee Island, a rock-solid marriage. The only thing missing is what they want the most - a child of their own. After Macey's fifth miscarriage in six years, she worries that the family they've always dreamed of having might be out of reach. 

Macey's sister suggests adoption, but Macey and Ben aren't interested in pursuing that option - until fate, along with a three-legged golden retriever, crosses their path and pries open the doors of their hearts.

As a physician's assistant, Macey meets Harper Wheaton, a nine-year-old who has been dismissed from yet another foster home, and she is growing hurt, angry, and convinced she has no shot of finding her forever home. Who wants to adopt a child with a weakening heart?

Macey understands that Harper is a tough one, but understands she has struggled more than most. This gets Macey and Ben thinking about all of the children who need homes - good homes - and decide to adopt Harper. It begins to seem that the family they have always dreamed of is becoming a reality, but it isn't until Harper goes missing that one thing becomes clear: life is a complicated thing, but love doesn't have to be.

Promises of the Heart explores themes of family, faith, romance, and the realistic struggle with infertility, as well as touching on topics and causes dear to so many people, such as Donate Life, AdoptUSKids, Locks of Love, and Adopt-a-Pet, and there are links for those included in the book.

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