Wednesday, 5 January 2022

January Books from Bookouture

Mystery at Magpie Lodge is by Clare Chase. After the black sheep of the Fulton family is found dead, the village of Saxford St Peter is quick to blame it on his past misdeeds. But Eve Mallow is on the hunt for someone closer to home… When the down-on-his-luck Emory Fulton moves into crumbling Magpie Lodge, and starts running historical tours, the locals are none too pleased. He’s inventing grisly tales about their lovely little village, and disturbing everyone’s peace. But then he’s found dead in his bath, and everyone is suddenly running scared. Could something strange be happening? After all, the murder mirrors one of Fulton’s stories about Saxford’s dark past… But Eve Mallow is sure the answers lie in much more recent events. Accompanied by her stalwart dachshund sidekick Gus, she starts to dig a little deeper. Could it be Fulton’s snobbish bigwig brother, or the suspicious local academic? Why was his goddaughter handing him mysterious parcels, and why wouldn’t his sister-in-law let him in her house? As Eve unravels the secrets of the living and the dead, one thing is for sure: Fulton was a haunted, hunted man. And if Eve doesn’t crack the case soon, she might find whoever wanted to keep Fulton quiet on her trail too…

The Birthday Party is by Wendy Dranfield. Charlotte waves at her mother across the crowded lawn. Little red boots on, cowboy hat crooked over her blonde pigtails, she’s been looking forward to this party for weeks. Moments later, she disappears without a trace… Kathy Hamilton drives away from her sister-in-law’s pristine-white suburban house in Maple Falls certain she’s left her daughter in safe hands. On the hottest day of the year, a birthday is the perfect excuse to gather friends, family and neighbors around the pool for a barbecue. But when she returns hours later to find her little girl has vanished, her world shatters. Nobody laughing and drinking in the garden that day saw anything unusual. Kathy’s eldest daughter is anxious and hardly eating. Is she sick with worry for her sister, or hiding a terrible secret? The phone rings and rings, but why can’t Kathy get hold of the babysitter? And is she imagining it, or when her husband rushed from work to join the search, was he wearing a different shirt to the one she saw him leave the house in that morning? As the temperature rises, and long-buried secrets begin to surface, it’s clear that even the most perfect families keep devastating secrets. But in a town as small as this, is there anyone you can trust?

The detective stared at the young woman lying on the bed. She almost looked peaceful, her face like porcelain. Despite everything she had been through, she was still beautiful. When DI Bernie Noel hurries to Keira Howard’s hospital bedside, she knows that Keira has been lucky. Barely conscious and badly injured, at least she is alive. Convinced that Keira’s attack is the latest in a string of increasingly violent assaults on young women in the area, the next victim might not be so fortunate. So she vows to find the man who did this, and to stop him before anyone else gets hurt. Spurring her team into action, she quickly hones in on a prime suspect. But then he suddenly dies while on police watch, and Bernie’s investigation goes into free-fall. When Bernie’s superiors won’t let her take the case any further, her gut instinct tells her there’s much more to his death than meets the eye. If it was murder, who would want him dead, and why? So she determines to set out on her own to find out what happened. But the closer Bernie comes to discovering the truth, the more she is putting her own life in danger. And with Keira finally strong enough to talk her about her attack, Bernie worries she may be at risk yet again. There’s someone out there who has killed to stay safe in the shadows; can Bernie stop another senseless death, and save Keira, before it’s too late? Left for Dead is by Joy Kluver. 

Two Couples. Three Secrets. One Murder. In a beautiful house surrounded by woodland, the Drayton family and their dearest friends are enjoying dinner together. The wine is flowing, the meal has been lovingly prepared, and it’s going to be an evening none of them will ever forget… A doting mother with a manipulative daughter. A loving husband lying to his family. A close friend keeping a shocking secret. A beautiful girl who will be dead by the end of the night. The Night of the Party is by Anna-Lou Weatherley.

A Deception Most deadly is by Genevieve Essig. Meet Cassie Gwynne: bookworm, cat lover, reluctant heiress… and accidental detective? America, 1883. Cassie Gwynne is looking for a fresh start when she steps off the steamship to meet her Aunt Flora, a famous perfumer, for the first time. After losing her father, her aunt is the only family she has left so she wants to make a good impression. She’s styled her unruly hair, shined her boots, and even purchased a whole new fashionable wardrobe. However, she’s certain finding a body is not very ladylike behaviour… While out exploring the beautiful island of Fernandina, Cassie stumbles across the body of Peanut Runkles, town grump and her aunt’s neighbour, lying at the foot of the harbour pilots’ lookout tower. To make matters worse, because Peanut and Aunt Flora have been quarrelling for years over Flora’s pet pig’s fondness for Peanut’s vegetable patch, and had their biggest argument the day before, Flora is immediately arrested for murder. Cassie is certain her sweet aunt is innocent, and vows to prove it, to save her from a most unjust fate. It doesn’t take her long to realise the island is full of people who had reason to want Peanut dead, including the brusque barkeep and a fickle financier who owed him money. Soon, Cassie’s brilliant mind and nose for a clue lead her back to the scene of the crime and the mysterious coloured glass found by the body… but what does it mean? Then a break-in at Flora’s store throws Cassie off course. It seems sabotage is afoot, and the culprit is striking ever closer to home… Can Cassie get to the bottom of the case before her time on the island comes to a deadly end?

You have two days to kill her, or you will be the next to die… A week ago the body of a young woman named Mia Gallagher was found in an elevator shaft, forty-eight hours after she was snatched from her apartment in Lakemore, Washington. When a local man confesses to her killing in his suicide note, the police department believe the case is closed. But then another woman goes missing, and forty-eight hours later is found dead. Detective Mackenzie Price is convinced their deaths are connected. Then she finds a letter in the supposed murderer’s house and realizes the sickening truth: the victims are all part of a sinister game, and more lives are at stake. Someone wants these women dead—but isn’t killing them. Instead they are blackmailing others to do their dirty work: become a murderer, or be the next to die. When a third woman goes missing, Mack and her partner Detective Nick Blackwood know they have just forty-eight hours to find her alive. Only by hunting down the blackmailer, who’s masterminding this twisted game, will they be able to stop the killings. But the blackmailer will go to any lengths to get away with murder, and now no one connected to the case is safe. Including Mack. She has spent years healing from her troubled past, learning to open her heart again but—as one of the people closest to her is sucked into the game—could she be about to lose another person she loves? The Dying Game is by Ruhi Choudhary.

Find the Girl is by Helen Phifer. The tent door flutters in the warm breeze, opening towards the silent woods beyond. A silk eye mask lies on top of the empty sleeping bag, blood-red spots ruining the cream fabric… When a woman disappears from Forest Pines campsite, Detective Morgan Brookes scrambles a search party. Sara Fletcher has never missed a lunch date with her best friend and when Morgan finds a large rip in Sara’s tent, she knows that something terrible must have happened. About to lose hope after hours combing through the acres of dense forest, the excited bark of a tracker dog leads Morgan to female remains, partially covered by leaves and dirt – but the bones don’t belong to Sara. Morgan trawls through missing persons files until she finds three cold cases with chilling similarities – three other victims dating back twenty years who were taken from campsites while they slept, by a killer the police called the Travelling Man. The post-mortems indicate he kept them alive for 72 hours, meaning every second is crucial to find Sara alive. Morgan’s team is terrified that this twisted murderer has returned. But Morgan also can’t ignore the fact that a merciless killer from her own past has recently escaped from prison… Could they be chasing the wrong man? If she’s correct, how deep will she have to dig to save Sara and other innocent women like her before time runs out for them all?

The only sound in the forest was the wind through the branches; the only light came from the campfire. Jessie stood up, suddenly gripped by a powerful sense of dread. There was something – someone – beyond the darkness, through the trees… When single father Joe Keenan and his young son Finbar make camp for the night in the ancient forest of Leitrim, little do they imagine their rural escape is about to turn into a nightmare. For deep in the woods they find a corpse… As the remains of dozens more victims are uncovered by police, it becomes clear this is the burial site of a serial killer who has obviously been active, unnoticed, for years. Arrested for the murders, while his beloved son is sent into care, Joe pleads his innocence to no avail. But criminal behaviourist Jessie Boyle is convinced the killer is still out there. Determined to reunite Joe and his son, Jessie’s investigation turns towards the local community. Who knows the shadowy depths of the forest well enough to hide not just one, but many bodies? Then someone else goes missing, and the situation takes a terrifying turn: it’s clear the killer is escalating their gruesome spree. Forced to enter the woods alone to save a life, Jessie runs from a killer so skilled at hiding and so clever at hunting, it will take every ounce of her strength to make it out alive… Lost Graves is by S A Dunphy.

Behind her dream life hides the perfect nightmare. I couldn’t believe it when I got the call to offer me my dream job. It was right in the heart of the city with a flat provided. I jumped at the chance and within weeks I had made new friends and started to date a wonderful man. For the first time in years, I felt safe. It’s a world away from the life I ran from… But soon strange things begin to happen in my flat: odd noises in the night, the feeling that I’m being watched. When I discover an old dress hidden behind my wardrobe and wear it to work, the atmosphere chills instantly. The dress belonged to a girl my boss would rather forget. The girl before me who vanished without a trace. I tell myself not to worry; that I’m just imagining things. But when a young woman arrives on my doorstep, she warns me to leave my new life behind. She tells me there are more girls like me and we are more connected than I could have ever imagined. Then I come face to face with the reason I ran all those years ago and it soon becomes clear: someone knows my secret. And they will do anything to keep me silent. The New Girl is by Ruth Heald.

Twisting her hands together, she bites back a sob. She only turned her back for a second, and then her daughter was gone. Every mother in town would be hugging their children tighter tonight. Lara is baking cupcakes when her daughter Ava runs to catch the school bus just one block away. Chasing after her, Lara sees the bus tumbling past, and waves. But Ava never turns up at school. Detective Ellie Reeves is in a race against time to find her––in missing child cases, every second counts. Searching the small town of Crooked Creek, she finds the child’s bunny in the local park, the toy Ava carried around everywhere. Did Ava ever get on the bus? While Ellie works around the clock, a local reporter gets a message: There are others missing girls out there. Digging into previous cases, Ellie discovers that another girl went missing on the same day the previous year. How many more children could there be? Ellie is certain that the date means something––and that the person who sent the message is the key. But the community is up in arms, with everyone worried that their daughter will be next and blaming Ellie. The pressure is mounting, and time is running out to bring Ava home. Can Ellie solve the toughest case of her career––and save Ava––before it’s too late? Stolen Angels is by Rita Herron. 

The Guest Room is by Rona Halsall. You think you’re safe in your home. You’re wrong. Steph used to think her life was perfect. A happy marriage, two wonderful kids, and a home she felt safe in and called her own. But now her husband has walked out after thirty years, her daughter Bea is married and lives miles away, and Steph’s estranged son hasn’t made contact in years. Home doesn’t feel like the safe haven it once did. When she begins to hear noises in the night, at first she thinks she’s imagining things. But then she finds open windows she knows she left closed, and a strange smell in the kitchen – and she knows none of it feels right. Then her front window is smashed, and a young man named Noah helps her fix it. He’s fallen on hard times and Steph impulsively offers him a place to stay. He reminds her of her missing son, and as a mother she finds herself wanting to help him. Also, if he is there, she won’t be home alone. Before long Noah is living in Bea’s old bedroom, paying rent, and getting his life back on track. Steph’s ex-husband and Bea are furious. But Steph feels secure at last, and that’s what matters. Until the strange things start happening once more. And Steph realises that someone is out to scare her… Someone who will stop at nothing to make her never, ever feel safe again.


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