Posts Tagged 'murder'

We Were Kings by Court Stevens

Nyla and her mom have struggled her entire life because it is just the two of them and they did not have much money. Her mother’s best friend, Frankie Quick, was convicted 20 years ago for murdering Cora King, the daughter of the well known King family in their small town. Since that time, Nyla’s mother has spent every waking moment trying to prove Frankie’s innocence, but time has run out. They recently passed a new law that will expedite the death penalty for anyone in Frankie’s situation. Frankie now has 30 days before her execution and Nyla’s mom is not handling the news well. For the first time, Nyla starts to put together some inconsistencies in the murder investigation and begins to suspect Frankie is indeed innocent. Along with her friend, Sam, who actually gives tours on the island of the now notorious Cora King murder, Nyla begins a new YouTube Channel called Death Daze and tries to get to the truth of what happened to Cora King. Along the way, Nyla uncovers some truly surprising twists in this case as she meets all the suspects, including the King family. Can she prove Frankie is innocent? Can she do it in time to save her? Is it possible Frankie really is a murderer? If not Frankie, who could’ve done such a heinous crime?

This mystery pulls you in right from the beginning as you follow Nyla along on her journey to discovering the truth. There are numerous surprises and exciting events as people try to keep Nyla from discovering the truth. Each time she hits a roadblock, though, she actually takes that as a sign that she is in fact going in the right direction. Frankie, whom she has known about her entire life, but only recently met, has become very important to her and she feels it is highly unlikely she is a murderer. Fans of mysteries who want a truly captivating and unique store will enjoy this title.

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

Genre: Historical Mystery

In this fun retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Lizzie is desperate to work for her father’s law firm, but he has kept her to the side working small office jobs because he doesn’t think it’s proper for a young lady to aspire to become a lawyer. Meanwhile, the heir to his estate, a dour Mr. Collins, is working at the firm and frequently takes credit for Lizzie’s work as he seems to have very little work ethic himself. Lizzie’s mom would love to see one of their five daughters marry Mr. Collins so that they will not be turned out of their house when Lizzie’s dad eventually dies. Lizzie has made it clear she has no interest in Mr. Collins and finds him rather repulsive. When Lizzie learns that there has been a murder and a Mr. Bingley has been accused of the crime, she immediately feels this is her shot to prove to her father that she can be a valuable asset to the firm. She goes to the jail to meet Mr. Bingley, but is not there very long before a Mr. Darcy arrives to post bail for his client and good friend. Mr. Darcy is not amused that Lizzie is inserting herself into this case, but Mr. Bingley is desperate for anyone to help him out of this predicament. The man who was murdered was Mr. Bingley’s brother-in-law and it was well known that the two were not getting on very well at the moment and that Mr. Bingley’s sister was planning to leave him. Lizzie decides she needs to prove her ability to solve a case by continuing to investigate and comes across a young man working as a runner named Mr. Wickham who seems very eager to help her. Meanwhile, Mr. Darcy has made it very clear that he doesn’t want her meddling in his case. Who can Lizzie trust to help her get to the truth? What secrets are the Bingley’s hiding? Can Lizzie every prove to her father that she is more valuable than Mr. Collins?

This fun retelling will interest anyone who enjoys historical mysteries. Fans of the original will have fun seeing how each character fits into this version. The mystery itself is very engaging and has some serious twists and turns leading up to its big finale. Mystery fans will not be disappointed by the resolution of the mystery. Lizzie’s character is true to her original nature, but pushes her to be even more forceful in her wish to find the truth for Mr. Bingley. There are several characters who do not play as big of a part as they did in the original, but that doesn’t detract from the interesting plot of the mystery. It was thoroughly entertaining throughout and it will be fun to see more in this series in the future.

Sense and Second Degree Murder by Tirzah Price

Genre: Historical Fiction Mystery

Elinor Dashwood is greatly saddened when her father suddenly dies working at his desk one night. She has to break the news to her younger sisters, Marianne and Margaret, and their mother. To make matters worse, everything their father owned legally now belongs to his son from his first marriage, and his wife makes it very clear that they want them out of the house. With very little to their names, they must rely on the kindness of a distant relative who offers to rent them a tiny apartment in a bustling part of the city. Marianne, the middle sister, had previously worked with their father in his detective business and very much wants to keep it going, but is denied by her brother and his wife who now legally own the business and have chosen to close it. Before they move out of their home, Marianne notices that the teacup their father was drinking from the night he died contains an unusual substance. Elinor likes studying chemistry and immediately tries to find out what the substance is, but it does not appear to be a commonly known one. As they settle into their new life, they find that many of their old friends have forsaken them now that they are no longer a part of high society and they quickly learn who they can really rely on. Can they trust Edward Farrell, their brother’s brother-in-law, who seems to be eager to help the Dashwoods? Who is this mysterious man Mr. Willoughby who has begun to show a romantic interest in Marianne? Is it possible someone intentionally hurt their father and if so, why?

Fans of Jane Austen will enjoy this fun updated mystery version. All of the main elements are there from the original story, but the sisters seem more modern and savvy in their quest for truth and wisdom. The mystery itself holds up very well considering the characters are already set from the original version. Somehow the personalities of the characters remained in tact even as their role in the story changed to fit the mystery of how Mr. Dashwood died. There are many satisfying twists to the mystery and the resolution seemed fitting for the time period the story is set in. Highly recommended for Jane Austen fans and those looking for a fun historical fiction mystery.

Nothing More To Tell by Karen M. McManus

Genre: Mystery

Brynn Gallagher vividly remembers when her favorite teacher was murdered on school grounds four years ago. The three students, one of whom was her good friend at the time, who found the body all had the same story and none were ever suspected of having anything to do with the murder. Brynn moved away shortly after, but has returned to the school for her senior year and, as an aspiring reporter, managed to get an internship with a true crime podcast and she’s hoping they’ll cover the mysterious death of Mr. Larkin. As she begins to look into the crime with fresh eyes, it’s apparent that many people, including the three students who found the body, all appear to be hiding something and she knows there is more to it than anyone knows. Can she get to the bottom of who killed Mr. Larkin? Can she ever find a way to fit into a school that prides itself on its social hierarchy?

Fans of McManus’s other titles will not be disappointed. The story twists and turns, but ultimately has a satisfying and surprising ending that explains all the questionable choices made surrounding this case. There are so many revealing facts that readers will be left guessing all the way until the end. The character development was pretty good, so it’s easy to see why everyone reacted as they did to this tragedy. Fans would welcome another novel set in this same illustrious school. Recommended for mystery readers.

Dead Girls Can’t Tell Secrets by Chelsea Ichaso

Genre: Mystery

Savannah’s sister, Piper, was in a mysterious hiking accident that left her in a coma. Everyone thought it was a tragic accident, but Savannah is taking it particularly hard since she always felt like she was in Piper’s shadow. Piper seemed to just excel at everything she did and often Savannah felt resentful, which feels really wrong now that there’s a good possibility she won’t wake up. In order to try and connect with her sister a little, Savannah takes up one of Piper’s activities, which was the winderness club. In fact, they give her Piper’s backpack filled with wilderness essentials and it’s there that she finds a note telling Piper that there will be a wilderness meeting at the same time and place where she had her tragic fall. However, everyone in the group assures Savannah that there was no such meeting. Was someone with Piper when she fell? Did someone lure her there on purpose? Can Savannah find out what really happened to her sister?

This mystery presents several different characters who all seem to be involved in the story in some way, which makes it fun for the reader to follow along and find out who really knows what happened to Piper. It’s also easy to understand why Savannah has such mixed feelings toward her sister as you see how everyone continues to treat her even now that Piper’s not around. The mystery itself is fun and the ending is satisfying. It’s a fun read for those looking for something quick and light.

The Ivies by Alexa Donne

Genre: Mystery

Olivia Winters goes to Claflin Academy, a fancy prep school, for her senior year and is somehow befriended by the elite clique known as the Ivies. The Ivies are all from wealthy families and their goal is to all get into Ivy League Schools. They actively sabotage classmates in order to increase their own chances of getting in where they want to go. The only hitch is that they believe only two people are usually accepted into any Ivy League from a particular school. So, because queen bee Avery wants to go to Harvard, Olivia is instructed to choose another school. She secretly applies anyway and is unsure how to feel when she gets in. She’s thrilled to have gotten in, but worries how her friends will react and how she will pay for it. When Avery finds out she didn’t get accepted she goes ballistic and demands the other Ivies find out who did get in so she can “kill them.” When a murder does indeed occur Olivia is more terrified than ever to announce her new accepted status and for the first time realizes how under handed some of their schemes have been this year in order to keep others down. Are her friends really looking out for her or were they using her to get what they wanted? What would they do if someone got in their way?

This mystery story is unique in that it dives deep into the college application process for elite schools. The pressure to succeed and be the best is so prevalent in this school that you can almost see how these girls got to be so cutthroat in their path to success. Olivia is a sympathetic character who really seems to want to get the truth and due to her financial status is one of the few characters who truly has a lot to lose. The ending is satisfying and exciting. Recommended for mystery fans!

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

Teddy Crutcher is an English teacher at an elite prep school where money talks and appearances definitely matter. Whenever he feels a student is spoiled or entitled he often tries to find a way to take him or her down a peg and in his mind he is actually helping the student to learn that not everything in life can be bought. Enter Zach Ward, a rich and entitled student with very demanding parents who cannot handle their son not getting straight As in order to set up his entire future. Zach isn’t as worried about his grades as his parents are, but he definitely isn’t used to teachers not liking him and believing every word he says so he starts to keep a closer eye on Mr. Crutcher. Then, during a party at the school a very overbearing mom suddenly drops dead during the speeches. Everyone is shocked to learn that she was actually poisoned, but was it murder or an accident? Was she even the intended target? Soon, everyone at school is alarmed and the growing chaos leads to more gossip and false leads. Sadly, it also leads to more unfortunate incidents at the school that leaves everyone, including police, reeling and struggling to make sense of it. Who is trying to hurt people at this school and is it random or calculated?

In a place where everyone has secrets it can be hard to expose others without your own getting revealed. This story follows several different characters who all have connections to the Belmont Academy and their motivations are quickly revealed, as well as how far they will go to get what they want. The students and staff all feel superior to others in their own way and believe they deserve everything they want. Many are truly surprised when things do not work out as planned. The set up of this school is incredibly believable as students are more competitive than ever to get into prestigious colleges so they can enter enviable careers. It’s not hard to imagine how much tension there can be in an environment where everyone has such lofty goals. Teddy’s motivations are revealed quickly, but several other characters are concealing shady secrets of their own to the point that it’s hard to know who to root for. Fans of crime fiction and true crime podcasts will enjoy this title as it creates an eerie but realistic vibe.

You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Ivy, Cal, and Mateo used to be close in junior high after they all skipped school one day and had “the best day ever” and were never caught. They have drifted apart in high school, but one day fate brings them together and they all decide to skip again in the hopes of rekindling that magical day. Unfortunately, things do not go as planned and they end up witnessing the aftermath of the murder of a classmate. They know they had no business being there and it looks very bad so they run. As they try to figure out what happened on their own, it becomes clear they are all dealing with some pretty difficult secrets that they must trust each other with in order to be able to move on. Can they clear their names even as rumors start swirling that they know what happened to their classmate and could have been involved? Will they ever be as close as they once were? Is there anyone out there they can trust?

This story engages readers right from the beginning, because you naturally feel for all of them in one way or another. It is really easy to identify with all of their struggles and yet you can see how they all came to make the choices that they did. Without giving too much away, the ending is very exciting and dramatic and leaves room for more in a potential sequel. Readers who enjoyed One of Us is Lying will enjoy this title.

This is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lapore

Genre: Mystery

Jenna likes to take photos at sunrise and usually finds the beach peaceful and quiet, but on this particular morning she sees Adam, a boy from the local reform school, struggling to get a body out of the water. Soon, she discovers that the body belongs to a girl she goes to school with. Both Adam and Jenna are pretty shaken that someone their age could be murdered in their sleepy little town. Jenna lives with her aunt, who is a police detective, and even though she never shares details of the case Jenna can definitely tell they are struggling to find who did this. Meanwhile, Jenna’s friends are pretty upset by the loss of their friend. Adam, on the other hand, finds that he and his friends are being questioned over and over again because they are seen as troublemakers due to their pasts. Jenna and Adam decide to start investigating on their own to not only clear their own names, but to save those around them from a similar fate. However, they quickly learn that everyone is hiding something and nothing anyone says can be trusted. Can they get to the truth without finding their way in the crosshairs of the killer?

This fast paced mystery thrilled will be popular with readers who like the April Henry books. There are many characters, which adds a layer of mystery as there are many red herrings, but there aren’t so many characters that it’s impossible to keep them all straight. The conclusion of the story is both exciting and satisfying and there are many plot twists along the way that will keep readers guessing until the end. Recommended for mystery fans.

Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

Genre: Mystery

Napoleon “Nap” Dumas has never gotten over the fact that his twin brother, Leo, and Leo’s girlfriend, Diana, were found dead after apparently getting hit by a train their senior year. It was ruled an accident, but it never sat right with Nap and he’s never been able to move on. The same night his brother died his girlfriend, Maura, ran away and was never heard from again. Nap grew up to become a detective after Diana’s dad, Augie, the police chief took him under his wing and became his mentor. He also became very close to a classmate named Ellie after the deaths and she’s still his best friend to this day. He has tried to move on, but there’s always a part of him that will wonder what happened that night. Then, Maura’s prints turn up at a crime scene where another classmate of theirs is mysteriously gunned down. Nap can’t help but wonder if it’s connected. How many of their classmates are going to die under strange circumstances? Why did Maura show up again after all of these years? Is it possible to really find out the truth about what happened that night? Does he really want to know?

Fans of Harlan Coben will enjoy this suspense mystery. There are many layers to the mystery as Nap is trying to find out how his brother and his brother’s girlfriend died all those years ago as well as finding out why friends of theirs seem to be targeted now all these years later. There are many supporting characters who contribute to the story, but not so many that you can’t keep them straight. The ending will satisfy those who love an exciting resolution.

The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson

Genre: Mystery and # of Pages 383

Stevie and her friends, head to a summer camp as camp counselors, but really they are there to try and solve the unsolved case of four teenage camp counselors who were murdered at that same camp in the 1970s. What happened to them has become legend over time and the new camp owner would like to have the case solved so the town can move on and try to start forgetting the terrible tragedy. Stevie soon learns that back in the seventies four teenagers snuck into the woods late one night and were not seen alive again. One of the boys was found on the path to the woods as if he’d been running for help when he was struck down and the other three were stacked neatly in a box in the woods. Stevie finds that while the case was several decades ago, the biggest challenge is that many people still remember it vividly and are having trouble with yet another person digging it all up again so she makes it her mission to solve it this time. Shortly after they arrive there is another murder and Stevie knows that someone out there definitely knows more than they are sharing. Can she find who killed those teens back in the 70s and learn why? Can she solve the murder of the recently discovered victim?

Fans of the Truly Devious series will enjoy this title since it features many of the same characters and it’s all wrapped up in one book this time. The story has a campy Halloween horror movie feel for readers, which many readers will enjoy. The town is full of colorful characters who all bring something to the solving of this case. This is a fun, suspenseful mystery for mystery lovers. Hopefully we will see more of Stevie and her friends in future mystery stories.

In the Study with the Wrench by Diana Peterfreund

Genre: Mystery

Number of pages: 327

Still reeling from the murder of their Headmaster in the first book of this series, Orchid, Vaughan, Scarlet, Mustard, Peacock, and Plum have all returned despite the fact that they are now referred to on campus as the “murder crew.” All of them have their own reasons for wanting to return, but are not expecting it when another staff member is murdered. They also start getting mysterious notes that seem to just be targeting the six of them. There is also a new student who has been keeping an annoyingly close eye on the group and some of them don’t believe she’s a regular student. The school administration is trying desperately to keep things afloat after all this tragedy and do not want the students snooping around or making anything worse, but they feel they have a real need to find out what’s going on because they seem to be targets for whomever is behind these terrible events. Can they find out who is behind this new murder without getting hurt themselves? Is this murder unrelated to the murder in the first book? Can they trust each other or will their secrets get in the way?

This sequel to In the Hall with the Knife is a natural continuation of the first story and fans will want to keep going with these characters. In the first book, the reader learned how many secrets each character has and those were fleshed out a bit more in this one. The characters are all interesting and developed and it will be fun to see how they develop even more in the next one. Readers looking for a fun, lighter mystery will enjoy this title.

The Betrayed by Kiera Cass

Genre: Romance

Number of Pages: 292

In this sequel to The Betrothed, Hollis has been forced to flee her home country after her husband and parents were brutally murdered. All she has left is her new mother-in-law and sister-in-law. They have chosen to return to their homeland, but they are unsure if they will be welcome as the Isoltan King has made it clear he does not trust their family. Her husband’s cousin, Etan, has come to help them on the long journey but he has made it very clear that he does not care for Hollis and feels she has put his family in unnecessary danger. Hollis finds that she must prove herself to everyone she meets in this new kingdom because so few people trust Coroans. As she tries time and again to prove her loyalty to the family, Etan begins to come around and eventually the two grow close. They can’t help but feel guilty about their new infatuation after the recent demise of Hollis’s husband, who was Etan’s cousin. When they are summoned for a wedding of the Prince of Isolte, the King is very surprised to hear that Hollis’s husband and his family were brutally murdered. Hollis finds this interesting because she had assumed he was the one who ordered the attack. If the King of Isolte did not order her husband’s death then who did? Is she still in danger from this person? Why would someone want to murder her entire family on her wedding day? Is there any way for her and Etan to be together without feeling terrible guilt?

This book has a lot more action and drama than the first one did. The Betrothed ended in a really exciting way, but The Betrayed has more action and plot twists throughout the entire story. Hollis is a much stronger character than she first appears, but that could be because she finds along the way that there are things she truly cares about. In the beginning she simply went along with whatever people asked her to do, but by the end she is a force and will not be silenced. The ending has a few convenient developments that readers might find to be too easy, but nonetheless they will be satisfied with the ending of the story. The characters grow and develop throughout this series and readers will care what happens to them in the end.

Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Genre: Mystery

Rachel Krall has a murder podcast that has gained her some notoriety, but she is used to being fairly anonymous which is why she’s so stunned when she starts receiving letters on her car, in her hotel room, and other places that no one should know about. The letters are from the sister of a girl, Jenny Stills, who died 25 years ago under mysterious circumstances. Officially, the death was ruled a drowning, but as Rachel starts investigating it does seem like the facts don’t add up. In the meantime, the reason Rachel is in this small town is to report on a rape trial going on that has divided the town. Everyone has an opinion about the two people involved in this case and feels like they should have a say in what happens. The boy is a promising swimmer and many believe that he shouldn’t have his reputation sullied by a girl they believe simply changed her mind. The girl’s parents, however, say she hasn’t been the same since that fateful day and they know it was indeed rape. Can Rachel report on this case in a way that portrays both sides equally and fairly while holding off the growing hostility of the people in the town? Can she get to the bottom of what happened to Jenny Still all those years ago and bring peace to Jenny’s sister?

This story is engaging from the beginning as both the ongoing trial and the mystery from the past have many twists and turns in them. The fact she runs a podcast is also interesting because more and more people have been enjoying crime podcasts lately. Rachel’s character seems fleshed out and you can definitely see how motivated she is to make her podcast relevant, but also factual. The eventual resolution is satisfying and doesn’t feel too rushed as the pieces start to come together. Fans of The Escape Room, The Woman in Cabin 10, and the Woman in the Window will enjoy this title.

Teen Killers Club by Lily Sparks

Genre: Mystery

Signal Deere was convicted of murdering her best friend, Rose, but even though Signal woke up covered in Rose’s blood she knows she’s innocent. It does not help that she has been classified as a Class A, which is the most dangerous kind of criminal. Therefore, when she is approached about joining a new secret program where they take teenage Class A criminals and train them to be assassins she knows this is her only way out of jail for the rest of her life. The obvious problem here is that Signal is not a killer and has difficulty from the start with the trainings they make her do. The counselor in charge of them seems to be trying to make life particularly difficult for Signal. She quickly realizes that the other teens in the program do not have any issue with killing. Erik, in particular, notices right away that Signal really doesn’t belong there, but in order to survive she must try her best to succeed in the tasks before her. Things get more complicated when a man wearing a mask infiltrates their camp and the counselors won’t tell anyone who he is or what he wants. Can Signal survive a place where they are trying to make her a killer surrounded by other killers? Can she trust anyone around her? Will she ever be able to clear her name and find out who really killed Rose?

This book really takes off once Signal gets to the camp and meets the other teenage criminals. It becomes obvious that you can’t really classify people into nice, easy categories and Signal helps each of them to see that there is more to them than their past actions. She becomes increasingly aware of the dangers surrounding her in this place where she doesn’t know how to defend herself. Once it becomes clear they are in danger, the teens band together, but in the end they are not the ones in charge and things go sideways pretty quickly as they try to rebel. Signal’s backstory is explored, but readers will want to know more about what happened to Rose and how her death came to be. Readers will also be eager to see more after the exciting ending that leaves the future of these teens in question. Hopefully, there will be a sequel to continue Signal’s story. Recommended for fans of forensic mysteries.


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