THE CHILD by Fiona Barton


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★


The author of the stunning New York Times bestseller The Widow returns with a brand-new novel of twisting psychological suspense.

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…


THE CHILD is an intriguing mystery surrounding the discovery of a decades old baby skeleton at a construction site. Given the premise, I figured it would also be an emotional read, and it was that. The story is told in alternating perspectives of four women, the investigative reporter (who we first met in THE WIDOW) and three others whose lives will be upended by the discovery.

Journalist Kate Waters is looking for her next big story when the baby’s remains are found. Kate’s investigation leads her to the unsolved disappearance of a baby from a maternity ward in 1970. Could they be related? Kate wants answers not only for her story, but also for the grieving family who’s been in limbo for over 40 years. I think Kate’s character has grown over the course of two books. She sees the humanity in this story, and not just a sensationalized headline for her publication.

I enjoyed Fiona Barton’s first novel, and THE CHILD I liked maybe a bit more. I loved how all the pieces came together in this haunting family drama. It’s a perfect blend of mystery, suspense, and women’s fiction. Unsettling and touching.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

SILENCE OF THE JAMS by Gayle Leeson


Series: A Down South Café Mystery, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


In the latest Southern cozy from the author of The Calamity Café, small-town chef Amy Flowers can’t take her freedom for granted when she’s served up as a murder suspect…

It’s Independence Day in Winter Garden, Virginia, and the residents are gearing up for their annual celebration. The Down South Café is open and flourishing, and Amy Flowers is busy making pies and cakes for the holiday. The only thorn in her side is Chamber of Commerce director George Lincoln, who is trying to buy the café so he can tear it down and build a B&B on the site.

When George collapses while eating at the Down South, everybody assumes it’s a heart attack—until the autopsy declares it to be poisoning. Now, it’s up to Amy to prove her innocence before her liberty is lost.


One thing about reading this book: it had my stomach growling from cover to cover. All of the Southern comfort food Amy Flowers was cooking up made me so hungry.

Winter Garden, Virginia, is a charming small town, and Amy owns the popular Down South Café there. Once again, Amy is thrown into a murder mystery when another suspicious death occurs in the restaurant, and this time the victim is her adversary George Lincoln, director of the Chamber of Commerce.

This delightful cozy is part mystery, part family drama, and even a little romance, though luckily the investigation never gets lost in the drama — instead, they compliment each other. The mystery was well plotted and introduced several possible anti-George suspects.

SILENCE OF THE JAMS is a fun summer-themed cozy mystery full of yummy food and great characters. Enjoyed!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

THE GIRL WHO WAS TAKEN by Charlie Donlea


Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★★


Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald are both high school seniors in the small town of Emerson Bay, North Carolina. When they disappear from a beach party one warm summer night, police launch a massive search. No clues are found, and hope is almost lost until Megan miraculously surfaces after escaping from a bunker deep in the woods.

A year later, the bestselling account of her ordeal has turned Megan from local hero to national celebrity. It’s a triumphant, inspiring story, except for one inconvenient detail: Nicole is still missing. Nicole’s older sister Livia, a fellow in forensic pathology, expects that one day soon Nicole’s body will be found, and it will be up to someone like Livia to analyze the evidence and finally determine her sister’s fate. Instead, the first clue to Nicole’s disappearance comes from another body that shows up in Livia’s morgue—that of a young man connected to Nicole’s past. Livia reaches out to Megan for help, hoping to learn more about the night the two were taken. Other girls have gone missing too, and Livia is increasingly certain the cases are connected.

But Megan knows more than she revealed in her blockbuster book. Flashes of memory are coming together, pointing to something darker and more monstrous than her chilling memoir describes. And the deeper she and Livia dig, the more they realize that sometimes true terror lies in finding exactly what you’ve been looking for.


I enjoyed reading Charlie Donlea’s debut novel, SUMMIT LAKE, last year, and I’m thrilled to say that his second book, THE GIRL WHO WAS TAKEN, exceeded my expectations. It’s suspenseful, twisty, and chilling, which all together make for a riveting read.

Two young women were abducted the summer after their high school graduation. Megan escapes after two weeks, but Nicole is still missing a year later. What became of Nicole? Her older sister Livia is haunted by that question daily. While completing her fellowship to become a forensic pathologist, Livia wonders if a clue to her sister’s disappearance will end up on her exam table – and then suddenly, one appears.

I was fascinated by Livia’s job as a medical examiner, though I had to cringe several times! Yep, the autopsy descriptions could be gruesome, but clearly forensic pathology was well researched for this book.

The story jumps around in time, and is told from different POVs. What does Megan know about her time in captivity that her mind has repressed? There’s something dark and terrible in there that’s trying to get out. This was a puzzling and well constructed mystery that tripped me up more than once. The pace got faster as the story progressed, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough as the pieces were coming together toward the end. Speaking of the ending, I thought it was perfect and haunting and fitting for this harrowing tale.

Second novels can be tricky, but Charlie Donlea knocked this one out of the park. Five big stars!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.