Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Winter People

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Spooky, scary, bone-chilling. This modern-day ghost story tells the tale of the "people who are stuck between here and there, waiting...."

It is 1908 in West Hall ,Vermont. Sara Harrison Shea  and her husband, Martin, live on the farm of her ancestors;  run-down, barren land  in a lonely space where folklore says you can hear the whispers of the dead that roam everywhere. Many peculiar and mysterious disappearances have occurred over the years in this desolate place. Gertie, their precious daughter, is missing now, too.  Eventually her body is found at the bottom of an abandoned well. Tormented and grief-stricken, Sara imagines that Gertie's soul is very much alive. She spends her days and nights communicating with the child she adored, steadfastly believing that this was no accident. It was murder. Months later, Sara is found dead  in the field behind their home, mangled beyond description. What sinister phantom spirits inhabit the town of West Hall?

Now 100 years later, nineteen-year-old Ruthie Washburne lives in Sara's old farmhouse with little sister, Fawn, and their eccentric mother, Alice. One day their mother vanishes without explanation, and Ruthie begins to delve into the history behind this place they call home. The sisters are shocked to find Sara's diary pages, hidden and tucked away long ago. With this discovery, the sisters begin a dangerous journey to find their mother, suddenly realizing that there is a distinct connection to a disturbing story from the past. It takes them into a deep, dark, and eerie world that Sara believed existed; a supernatural world filled with long-lost secrets. And the girls aren't the only ones searching for answers......

Jennifer McMahon has written a spine-tingling, frightening novel dealing with the hereafter. This is her first venture into a hardcover book after writing paperbacks. Somehow she manages to intertwine characters from the past and present into a stunningly engaging story from start to finish. As a reader, pay attention to all the details and watch the pages slip through your fingers as the captivating story unravels. She examines the power of undying love between mother and child and  the power of grief. You may not believe in ghosts. You may not believe in the paranormal, but you just might have a shadow of doubt at the end.

Keep the lights on.......



Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Weight of Blood

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

Her name is Lila, this raven-haired beauty with the moss green eyes. People around these parts secretly call her a witch. Nestled deep in the Ozark Mountains, the residents of Henbane, Missouri seldom welcome new faces to their small town. But Lila longs for stability, at least for awhile, after being tossed from one foster family to another. So she accepts an offer to become a contract employee on a farm owned by a Mr. Crete Dane. Soon this enchanting young woman casts a spell over many of the townspeople and falls in love with Crete's brother, Carl. They have a daughter, Lucy, who strikingly resembles her lovely mother. When Lila vanishes without a trace, folks whisper about her disappearance, but do little to uncover the truth. Last seen with a pistol in her hands, Lila was supposedly swallowed at the mouth of  Old Scratch Cavern. Truth or fiction? Tucked away in their own little world, the citizens of Henbane vow to protect one another at all costs. Who are they protecting now?

Now ten years later, another person is missing. This time it is Lucy's good friend, Cheri. A young girl from a troubled home, everyone believes she ran away from the neglect and abuse of her mother. Plagued by recurring thoughts that she could have done more, Lucy regrets not being there for Cheri when she desperately needed a friend. Her mutilated body is found after many months, displayed for all to see, and people assume a drifter committed the crime. Lucy believes differently when she discovers a necklace belonging to Cheri in a familiar place. The mother she never knew; the friend savagely killed. Could these two cases possibly be related after all these years? She knows the answers lie in the heart of this town. However, the revelations of her discoveries prove to be more unsettling than she could ever imagine. Sometimes it's best to let the past quietly slip away. If only ghosts could talk. "But ghosts never came when you wanted them to......"

Laura McHugh's debut novel certainly suggests she is on her way to becoming  a successful author. This one is a compelling thriller. Be prepared for some dark, disturbing themes, all of which set the tone for a shocking intense mystery. Once again, alternating chapters are narrated by the main characters and give the reader an insightful window into their lives. McHugh does a superb job of describing the rural backwoods of small-town America in the Ozarks where she actually lived as a teenager. It is a story of secrets and lies; family loyalty and sacrifice. You may have a hard time putting this one down.

Blood is thicker than water....

Sunday, March 9, 2014

After I'm Gone

After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman

Five women love Felix Brewer. Now one of them is dead, and former homicide police detective, Roberto "Sandy" Sanchez is determined to uncover the truth after all these years....

When Bambi Gottschalk  meets Felix at a Valentine's Day dance in 1959, she immediately falls under his spell. He is not particularly handsome, rough around the edges, not at all what her parents envision for their only child. However, within months they are married, and Bambi begins to believe her husband's many outlandish promises. Yes, she knows that his business dealings are shady, but it makes life so much easier to put those thoughts in the back of her mind and enjoy all the material things Felix provides. He is a devoted father to their three daughters. He is a loyal friend to his lawyer and childhood friend, Bert. Unfortunately, another object of his dedication is the alluring Julie Saxony, his mistress.

Now Felix, facing prison, disappears into the night without a trace, leaving behind the women he loves. Bambi finds herself alone with financial woes and so many unanswered questions. Is Julie the recipient of all his money? Ten years to the day that Felix vanished, Julie also disappears. Everyone assumes the two have arranged a rendezvous. Then Julie's body is found in a secluded park, and Bambi and her daughters have theories as to who committed the crime. Theories they hide from one another. The murder remains unsolved until twenty-six years later when Sandy Sanchez, a lonely former cop, decides to re-open the cold case of Julie's demise. With each step he takes back in time, a story begins to unravel of greed, family secrets, jealously and bitterness. A complicated tale emerges of the women who love and adore one  man; women who are ultimately loyal to one another when all is said and done.

The chapters in this novel alternate over a span of  fifty years. A wide cast of characters provide the reader with many credible suspects in Julie's murder. It is a fun, fast-paced mystery filled with intricate details and clues. So many lies and suspicions; this story is a tangled web just waiting to be solved.

You'll have to wait until the very end to uncover the truth.  And of course finally discover...

What really happened to Felix Brewer?