Liar’s Bench by Kim Michele Richardson. Published by Kensington

Folks in the small town of Peckinpaw, Georgia aren’t really surprised when Ella Summer is found hanging dead from the beams in her house. The only question is whether the deed was carried out by her lowdown, no-good husband, or she did it herself to get away from him. Ella’s daughter Muddy is determined to find out, especially when she comes across some paperwork she cannot explain in with her mother’s belongings. She turns to her boyfriend, Bobby for help. Bobby passes for white in this small southern town, but the truth is, his ancestor was a slave who was hung at nearby Hark Hill Plantation.  Wood from the very gallows that was used is now on display in the town square as the “Liar’s Bench”. It doesn’t take Muddy, or the reader, long to realize that hatred, ignorance and bigotry lies just beneath the surface of this small town.

 

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Be Afraid by Mary Burton. Published by Kensington

Jenna Thompson is only five year old when police rescue her from the closet where she had been held captive for five days. Her captor may be dead, but Jenna’s ordeal is just beginning. Twenty five years later, Jenna has taken a leave from her job as a forensic artist to return to Nashville to try to say goodbye to old ghosts and find some closure. Instead, she finds herself helping a detective identify the skeletal remains of a young child. The case brings back memories from Jenna’s ordeal and she’s able to see links between this case and the deaths of other women in the area.

Mary Burton pens another tale of murder and mayhem with a likeable heroine and a fast paced plot line

Someone is Watching by Joy Fielding. Published by Ballantine

Bailey is an investigator for a team of Miami attorneys. When she’s called out to do surveillance on a cheating husband, the last thing she expects is danger, but she’s attacked, raped and nearly killed. Bailey is so shaken, finds herself unwilling to leave her own home. For something to do, she finds herself covertly watching her neighbors through a pair of binoculars. She’s particularly taken with the attractive man across the way, until she realizes that he’s watching her too. And she begins to think that she recognizes him as the man who attacked her. She gets no help from the police, who thinks she’s a nutcase, and it becomes painfully obvious that if Bailey will have to save herself.

A strong, believable female protagonist and a fast paced plot make this an enjoyable read

Time of Death by Mark Billingham. Published by Grove Atlantic

Tom Thorne was supposed to be on vacation with his girlfriend, DS Helen Weeks, but their plans are foiled when a body turns up. Helen knows the suspect’s wife from 25 years before, when they attended school together. She makes the difficult decision to go home, where she can support her friend, but in doing so, Helen will have to face a past she has been trying very hard to forget, Meanwhile, Thorne is convinced the suspect the police are holding is the wrong man; which means a killer is on the prowl….

Can this really be Thorne’s 13th case?! Billingham writes the best British crime drama, hands down. If you haven’t read any of these books, you don’t know what you’re missing

The Midwife’s Revolt by Jodi Daynard. Published by Lake Union

After Lizzie’s husband is killed in battle outside Boston in 1775, she moves away to make a new life for herself away from the painful memories. Lizzie is a skilled midwife and healer and as her reputation spreads, she finds herself and her skills in demand. Along with her medical practice, she becomes fast friends with Abigail Adams, and when two patriots are poisoned, Lizzie fears a plot that could harm her new friends, the Adams and her new homeland as well.

Daynard does an excellent job of placing the read smack in the middle of the 18th century, with all the appropriate sights, smells and sounds.

Humber boy B by Ruth Dugdall. Published by Legend

Two brothers have served their time in jail after having been convicted of pushing a young boy off the Humber Bridge. Now that they have been released, they have also been granted anonymity and Cate Austin, the probation officer of one of the boys is charged with making sure his identity remains secret. Among the public, there is outrage that the two “killers” are getting special treatment. Even Cate’s friends and co-workers (who know nothing of her involvement) are expressing their dislike of the situation. As Cate tries to work through her own complicated feelings on the matter, and decide whether children are capable of murder, she begins to learn the truth about what really happened on the bridge that day. A suspenseful novel that deals with a sensitive, but timely subject matter

Coming of Age at the End of Days by Alice LaPlante. Published by Grove Atlantic

Anna is the kind of kid who never really fit in anywhere. So she perfected the art of disappearing in plain sight, keeping all her personality quirks under wraps. When she is 16, her family gets new neighbors; the Goldschmidts are members of an extreme religious cult who believe that the end of the world is coming. It will happen quickly and be extremely violent. Anna finds herself falling under the spell of Lars Goldschmidts, and soon she is drawn into the families bizarre and frightening prophecies. Her family is soon in terrible danger and their only help, if it comes at all, will come from a most unexpected source. LaPlante writes some of the best literary suspense in the business and this is one of her finest works