House of Spines by Michael J. Malone. Published by Trafalgar Square

Ran McGhie has led a tormented life, suffering from mental illness. When he inherits a huge old mansion in Scotland, he believes he might have a chance to start over. After all the Hall is home to one of the largest private libraries Ran has ever seen, and as a poet, the whole thing seems somehow fated. It’s not until Ran begins strolling the endless and echoing halls of the mansions, that he begins to see and hear things that may not be there, that should not be there, that he begins to lose the little grasp on reality that he had. Filled with creepy old elevators and haunted mirrors, this is a Gothic novel perfect to curl up with on a cold winters night

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After Anna by Lisa Scottoline. Published by St. Martins

It’s been 17 years since Maggie left her daughter Anna with her ex. Now, happily remarried to Noah, she welcomes her teenage daughter back with open arms. It’s not long before tensions in the household reach a boiling point with Anna accusing Noah of molesting her. Maggie refuses to believe Noah when he calls the teen a liar and throws him out of their house. But Anna is not the sweet, innocent girl who Maggie believes she is, and when Anna is murdered, Noah is quickly accused and arrested. Following Noah’s account of the trial and Maggie’s story of the events leading up to it, this is a story that will leave you gasping. I simply couldn’t put it down, one of the most riveting reads of the new year

A Blood Thing by James Hankins. Published by Thomas & Mercer

This is a political thriller that will strike a chord with readers, especially in today’s dark world of politics. Andrew Kane is an idealistic governor for the state of Vermont, he has plenty of ideas on upsetting the status quo and getting things done the right way until his brother is frames for murder. Andrew can save Tyler, make the whole thing go away, he just has to follow the blackmailer’s demands and compromise everything he believes in. Hoping this is a one shoe deal, he goes along with the plan, but as everyone knows, once a blackmailer is successful, there’s no reason for him to stop. How far will Andrew go to save his family and what will he lose along the way. Dark and satisfying. I’d like to think that maybe some of our real life elected officials are being blackmailed – it might explain some of their otherwise inexplicable behavior

Spring on the Little Cornish Isles: The Flower Farm by Phillipa Ashley. Published by Avon UK

While I tend to prefer books that have one central character, I couldn’t help be charmed by this story of a group of friends on the Isle of Scilly. The story centers around a flower farm that Jess has devoted her life to, but when her boyfriend Adam ups sticks without any reason, she begins to wonder if the farm is all she’ll ever have to love. Gaby arrives to help on the farm, leaving behind a painful past, and Will finds himself in love for the first time in his life. The colorful characters and the beautiful scenery lifted me out of my January doldrums and put a smile on my face

The Girl in the Photograph by Kristy Ferry. Published by Choc Lit

Liss DeLuca is studying the Staithes Group, a colony of writers who inhabited Sea Scarr hotel in Yorkshire at the turn of the twentieth century. She has no fears of being by herself near the abandoned old home, but she has to admit that there is something strange going on. A figure that walks the beach, voices, bumps in the night, a hidden painting and a photograph of a woman all too familiar. Traveling back and forth between the early twentieth century and the present, Ferry draws comparisons between two great love affairs

Somebody’s Daughter by David Bell. Published by Berkley

Michael Frazier is home with his wife, Angela, when his ex-wife, Erica knocks at the door. Michael discovers he has a daughter with Erica, a complete surprise to him, and that his daughter has disappeared. He knows he can’t sit idly by and leaves to try to find the girl. His current wife, Angela is shocked and hurt by the news that her husband has a child with another woman, and she’s not thrilled he’s trying to find her, involving himself in a potentially deadly situation. When a total stranger approaches her, claiming to have unsavory information about Erica, Angela decides to try to find Michael before it’s too late. Bell is one of those authors who reinvents himself with each new book. Nothing formulaic, just good, solid, creepy stories

The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz. Published by Bantam

Jane Hawkins returns in her third storyline. She’s still doing her best to uncover and end a conspiracy that has caused a spate of murder suicides, including one that took the life of her husband. This time, Jane is aiming at the very pinnacle of the conspiracy, a man with a ferocious private army that will stop at nothing to see Jane dead. Koontz knows what readers want, and he’s been providing it for over thirty years. This series proves the guy still has his mojo and readers will eat it up