Stolen, Smuggled, Sold by Nancy Moses. Published by Rowman & Littlefield

There have been a spate of excellent books recently about the lost treasures of the Holocaust and Moses herself wanted to write about American museums returning the stolen artworks to their rightful owners. Turns out that even the museums who had returned stolen or looted art to its owners were reluctant to speak up as it raised questions about why they had the art to begin with. So Moses went a slightly different route and decided to try to track down a number of missing treasures – from paintings, to manuscripts, to mummies; in America, Europe and the Middle East. Readers follow along with Moses as she tracks down (or tries to track down) each artifact, meeting with the shady and underhanded and those determined to do the right thing. From outright robberies to the “acquisition” of certain pieces taken from their country of origin to be “proudly displayed” in an American on European collection. Moses is the real deal, with all the proper museum credential, but she’s also a hell of a writer and brings to mind Thomas Hoving and his splendid stories of shady museum dealings. Highly recommended

The Night of the Long Knives by Felix Leiber. Published by Dover

First published in 1960, this postapocalyptic thriller feels strangely current. In the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, the United States is unrecognizable. All semblance of law and order is long since gone and the people left will do anything, including kill, to survive. In the midst of the chaos, two drifters meet and form an uneasy alliance. While this is a short story, it has the depth and character development of a much longer read. And while this scenario seemed all too possible in 1960, it would have been almost impossible to believe in modern times, until the last year or so. Isn’t the U.S. sending tanks to Europe to quiet fears about potential Russian hostilities? The more things change the more they stay the same

The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Caleb Maddox, doctor of toxicology is drinking away his blues at a San Francisco bar after he and his girlfriend break up. That night he meets a mysterious and beautiful woman named Emmeline, fueled on absinthe and desire, Caleb is determined to find the intriguing woman after she leaves. But his search for Emmaline will take a sideline as he helps the city medical examiner, an old friend struggling with a series of deaths. It seems a serial killer is at work and busy dumping the bodies of his/her victims in the bay after their deaths. One of the men was last seen alive the night Caleb met Emmaline and he soon discovers there are more links between the murders and his elusive beauty. How exactly is she involved and how far will he go to be with the woman he has become all but obssessed with? Dark and disturbing, this was a well written thriller that kept me enthralled

After Anna by Alex Lake. Published by HarperCollins UK

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. Your child is in a safe place, say school or at the babysitters, or you’re out shopping or at the park and you turn away for just a moment, and then suddenly your child is gone. When a five year disappears from school, everyone, the parents, the police assume the worst. As time goes by with no lead, the girl is believed dead…or worse. But then a miracle occurs and the little girl reappears a week later. Parents and police are desperate to know what happened, but the child claims to have no memory of the event and the week following it. What really happened and who’s really to blame? This book had me guessing (wrongly) from the get go. For readers who want a mystery that will keep them guessing till the end – this is your book

Drive Me Crazy by Portia Macintosh. Published by Carina UK

Candice hasn’t always made the wisest choices in her love life. Take her current situation, her boss is also her boyfriend, and he happens to be married. Separated, but still…Now a business trip (romantic weekend?) with the boss goes awry when instead of driving off with her love, Candice is driving off with office new guy, Danny. Ah yes, Danny, the man who has plenty of opinions about Candice and the way she lives her life and is all too happy to share them with her as they travel together inside the very tight confines of his restored VW Beetle. This could be a very looong break, or maybe it could be something else entirely. I didn’t always like Candice, but she made me laugh until my stomach hurt

The Remarkable Rise of Eliza Jumel by Margaret A. Oppenheimer. Published by Chicago Review

Best known as the wife of Vice President Aaron Burr, Eliza Jumel was a woman few really knew. Born Betsy Bowen, she spent time as in indentured servant, a brothel and a workhouse. But she was determined to be much more and  when she died at almost 90 as Madame Eliza Jumel was one of the wealthiest women in America, with a summer home, beautiful possessions and hundreds of acres of prime land. Making her fortune as most women did in that time,  she married well, her first husband was a wealthy French merchant. Her second marriage to Burr ended in scandal, innuendo and divorce. When she finally died, her estate was hotly contested all the way to the Supreme Court where the people vying for her fortune called her either a beautiful, charismatic charmer, or a scheming whore. Oppenheimer shines a light on a little known, but fascinating, uniquely American woman

Blue Midnight by Tess Thompson. Published by Booktrope

Once, Blythe thought she loved a man more than anything in the world, but the rumors about his past and her own impending nuptials to another man caused her to walk away. Now, 13 years later, Blythe’s husband has left her for the ultimate cliché –  a younger work colleague. She begins to wonder what happened to that man she loved all those years ago and after finding an old note with his phone number, decides to travel back to Idaho to see what became of him and what she gave up…and perhaps might even now, regain. A lovely story about growing up, growing older, growing wiser and finding second chances