Two of my favorite authors, Jennifer McMahon and Kristen Lepionka, have published new books. McMahon's is another creepy thriller set in Vermont, her favorite place to be, and Lepionka's is the third in her Roxane Weary mystery series. I raved about them in previous posts back in 2018 (read them HERE, opens a new window and HERE, opens a new window). And they continue to write page-turners that keep me wanting more.
Check out their latest!
From McMahon, a chilling ghost story with a twist...
The Invited, opens a new window
People move into haunted houses, sure, but who builds one? That's the central question of McMahon's ninth suspense novel, in which the ghosts visiting a couple are guests, not intruders. Helen and Nate move from suburban Connecticut to a small town in Vermont to simplify their lives, and build the house of their dreams. They soon discover that the land they've moved to has a dark and violent past. Helen, a historian, becomes consumed with the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman accused of witchcraft who lived there a century earlier. Helen begins incorporating historical artifacts into the house -- a beam from a local schoolhouse, bricks from a mill, a mantle from a farmhouse -- objects she has been led to discover and that seem to carry a message, bringing her closer to Hattie and her secrets. As work on the house progresses, it becomes clear that the house and Hattie herself want something from Helen, and that she and Nate are in danger.
McMahon keeps us busy with multiple viewpoints and mysteries. While roughly half the book is told from Helen's third-person point of view, the other half belongs to Olive, the couple's scrappy 14-year-old neighbor. Desolate in her beloved mom's absence, Olive is obsessed with finding a treasure she believes Hattie hid in the nearby bog. The mystery of where her mom has gone segues in and out of the ghost story. A mutual fascination with the Breckenridge family's dark history draws her and Helen together.
One of the things that I love about McMahon's books is the atmosphere and setting. Her love and knowledge of Vermont show in her books. I am impressed with her ability to write such terrifying novels, while balancing the terror with tragic, well-constructed characters and a secondary plot. The plotting is deft and sure-footed, never slowing, never inconsistent, and relentlessly absorbing. McMahon is a champ!
I now own five of her books; still on a quest to get them all!
And from Lepionka, a late-night phone call can never be good...
The Stories You Tell, opens a new window
After a remarkable debut (The Last Place You Look, opens a new window) and an accomplished second novel (What You Want to See, opens a new window), Lepionka's third installment of the adventures of P.I. Roxane Weary is brilliant. Roxane finds herself plunged into a troublesome case when she receives a late-night emergency call from her brother Andrew, a bartender and occasional drug dealer. He had been home alone when Addison, a jilted old girlfriend, showed up at his apartment in a panic. After making a brief call, she ran from his place and promptly disappeared. The root of the mystery seems to center on a new dating app called BusPass (for Columbus, Ohio, of course) and a couple of middle-class suburban women who are friends with Addison. How these pieces fit together and what it all has to do with the mysterious closure of a local nightclub, and a dead ex-policeman, remains to be seen. Roxane's support network starts to crumble with Andrew behind bars for a parole violation, and her fickle on-again-off-again girlfriend, in Rhode Island. And then there's Tom...
Lepionka constructs a labyrinthine plot with a set of interesting ramifications. As in her previous novels, she does so by timing the story faultlessly, adding razor-sharp dialogue, and above all clever characterization. She has an unerring eye for the nuances of personality and circumstance that make her story's characters genuinely interesting people, rather than mere props in a plot. The narrative resonates with insights into contemporary life; dealing frankly with themes ranging from sexuality to dysfunctional families, from the unsavory side of social media to racial bias and the daily adversities faced by many who just manage to cope with the economics of modern life.
While it would be understandable if Roxane continued to exist in a state of arrested development as the bitter, angry, bourbon-swilling private eye, Lepionka has taken Weary on a journey of growth and development, novel after novel, with skill and patience. Over the course of three thrilling novels, she has created one of the richest protagonists in crime fiction.
This is an entertaining and thoroughly gripping crime novel and I look forward to the next chapter in the story of Roxane Weary, which should be sometime later this year. I hope to be first in line for a copy!
I recently acquired a bookmark which states: I Read Past My Bedtime. For me, this is soooo true, especially when books by these two authors are involved. They are un-put-down-able must-reads!