Saturday 3 June 2023

June Books from Bookouture

Hold Your Breath is by Helen Phifer. The biting wind whips around the crystal-clear waters of the lake. The girl sits with her eyes open, as if transfixed by the waves on the shoreline, but she has taken her last breath… When Detective Morgan Brookes is called to Lake Thirlmere one frosty night, she’s devastated to find the body of a young woman positioned in front of the glistening reservoir. She has ligature marks on her limbs, glue residue on her eyes, and her beautiful face is as cold as ice. Knowing only a dangerous serial killer would arrange a scene so carefully, Morgan is in a race against time to stop them before more innocent lives are lost. The victim is twenty-year-old Jasmine Armer and her mother is distraught to hear that her beautiful daughter is gone. And Morgan is shocked when she learns that Jasmine’s father recently died by suicide at the same picturesque spot. The killer must have known the family. Then Morgan receives a terrifying package at the station of an intricate death mask. She immediately recognises Jasmine’s long lashes and perfectly-plump lips. With the killer taunting her, Morgan knows time is running out. And then Morgan gets the heart-shattering call that her friend, Emily, has been killed. Ligature marks on Emily’s arms are identical to Jasmine’s. Heartbroken Morgan knows this isn’t the end of the killer’s twisted game, butcan she track them down before they take another life?

A new home. A loving wife. A secret that could kill… With its peeling wallpaper and overgrown garden I know our new home isn’t perfect. But my husband Ben promises it’s the fresh start we need. I remind myself that he’s an amazing father to our two children, and that we have years of happy marriage behind us. He’s been distant for months but I’m desperate to believe the move will bring us back together. When I meet our next-door neighbour Sara, I’m immediately relieved. She’s so welcoming and full of local gossip. But the moment she meets Ben I’m sure an angry frown flickers across her smiling face. Later he says I’m imagining things… Why is my husband lying?  Then one night as I tuck our children into bed, the silence is broken by a knock on the front door. A stranger is standing on our doorstep. I turn to look at Ben’s face as he stares at her with unconcealed fury. Has he met this woman before? Nothing could prepare me for what she says:I know who you are. Get out of my house. How well do I know the man I married? And by moving to this house, did I put my children’s lives in danger? My Husband's House is by Sheryl Browne.

The Night Out is by Wendy Clarke. Sean pulls me to him, and we both laugh happily, as we stroll home from our favourite wine bar. It’s our first evening out since our baby girl was born. I’ve only thought about Kitty a couple of times, wondering if she’s settled without my goodnight kiss. But our perfect night is shattered when I see the police car and the two officers on the front steps of our home… Someone has reported our sweet baby missing. When I rush inside the house and mercifully find our little girl tucked up inside her crib, you’ll think that’s the end of the story. And when Sean says a prayer of thanks, the police close the case and I hold Kitty in a tight embrace, you’ll feel grateful it was all one big mistake. But you’ll be wrong. You don’t know what I did fifteen years ago, the lies I’ve told or the reason I desperately want the police out of my house. I’m sure the person who reported Kitty missing knows everything about my past… You don’t know how much danger I’m in. Or how far I’ll go to keep my family safe…

I pull back the blanket to take another peek at my beautiful baby boy. My heart flatlines. He isn’t there. “Where is he?” I cry, my whole body trembling. But my husband just shakes his head. “Darling… we don’t have a baby.” What is he talking about? Stumbling to my feet, I look frantically at the highchair, the playmat in the corner, the sofa. I need to find my little boy. Limbs like ice, I rush toward the stairs, shouting my son’s name. But my husband grabs my arms and gently reminds me there is no baby here. I can’t listen. I don’t understand how our child isn’t in our home. I don’t know who could have taken him. I just know I have to find him. Climbing the stairs two at a time, my hand is already stretching toward the nursery door, but my husband overtakes, blocking my way. He forces me to face him. I think I can hear the baby mobile over the crib. I can practically smell the newborn smell. But my husband sighs and shakes his head. He says it again, firmly this time, as a tear tracks down my cheek: “We don’t have a baby.” I blink rapidly, my breathing ragged. I think he expects me to agree. But I know that my son is real. I can feel his weight in my arms. And I will stop at nothing to get him back… The Homemaker is by Shari J Ryan.

Their Wicked Games is by D K Hood. As she scans the dark pine forest, the unmistakable sound of a twig snapping breaks the silent stillness. She isn’t alone. She begins to run but she hardly has time to scream before her world goes black… On a secluded path near Black Rock Falls, three bodies lie bloodied and still—the arrows that killed them removed, and polished penny coins carefully placed on their frozen eyes. When Sheriff Jenna Alton and Deputy David Kane are called in, they are shocked to recognise the hallmarks of an infamous serial killer. But he’s been in prison for ten years. Jenna is convinced that the attacker knew the trio and lured them into the forest. But who would want to harm three innocent teenagers? And how does a convicted murderer fit in? Jenna knows she must question James Earl Stafford—one of America’s most dangerous killers—if she’s to save more innocent young lives. With Stafford refusing to give answers, Jenna is convinced that a copycat killer is stalking her small town. And her worst fears are realised when a local fisherman discovers another teenager’s lifeless body floating in the shallows of a local watering hole with the same penny coins covering her eyes. As parents panic for their children’s lives, Jenna works around the clock to track down the murderer, but little does she know that one of her own team is now being watched. Can Jenna play the killer’s wicked game and prevent another life from being taken?

I finally have everything I’ve ever wanted: a career saving lives, my dream home among the pines, and my caring fiancé, Elton. He doesn’t know about my past. And I’ll do anything to keep it that way… I’m so excited for my life with Elton—we’ve even discussed which room would make the perfect nursery. And we’re working together in our new jobs in the ICU at Portland General hospital. But when I walk in on my first day, I see my ex-husband Jameson. His familiar broad shoulders are unmistakable in his white doctor’s coat. The shock knocks the air from my lungs. I’m thrown back to the moment Jameson and I gathered around that hospital bed as the steady beeping on the monitor slowed. We did something unforgivable that day. And for the first time, I saw who Jameson truly was. The truth scared me more than I can explain. So I ran. If Jameson tells Elton what I did, I’ll lose everything. Will he destroy my new, perfect life? Is he still a danger to the innocent patients all around us? And how far will I have to go to stop him? The Good Doctor is by Jessica Payne.

Her Deadly Truth is by L A Larkin. She stumbles into the street in a thin cotton nightdress, tripping in her haste to get away from her house. Her feet are bare, her movements frantic. “I have to get out of here,” she pleads. “He’s killing me.” For weeks, Carolyn Tate’s suspicions that her husband is trying to kill her have been ignored—by her neighbors, her friends and even her family. But just two hours after her last attempt to make someone listen, her body is discovered. Carolyn’s neighbor, ex-police officer Sally Fairburn, is determined to seek justice for her friend’s death. But although Carolyn suspected her husband, Sally finds no evidence he was involved. And Carolyn’s best friends are strangely quick to defend him… Sally knows one of Carolyn’s friends, Lauren, is hiding something. She can see it in her tear-stained cheeks, averted eyes and tense shoulders: Fear. But just as Lauren’s finally ready to come clean, she is murdered in a brutal hit and run. Reeling from Lauren’s death, Sally is horrified to receive a series of dropped calls and anonymous flowers, leaving her with the unsettled feeling that she, too, is being followed… Then, on edge but feeling closer than ever to the truth, Sally watches a stranger threaten her teenage son—a finger drawn across his throat. Her world stops. It’s not just Sally at risk—everyone she loves is in danger unless she finds the truth… Can Sally stop a brutal killer before more innocent lives are lost?

Next Girl Missing is by L A Larkin. The little girl fidgets in her seat, wringing the ends of her scarf in a rush of panic. She tugs at the car door handle but it doesn’t open. Tears well in her eyes. “I want my mommy.” Four years ago, six young girls were snatched from the streets of quiet, suburban Pioneer Heights—chilling, fake “missing” posters of each victim hung around town just before they were taken. Ex-police officer Sally Fairburn has always been haunted by the case and their inability to bring the girls home. Having lost her own daughter, she knows only too well the pain it brings… Four years on, the wide brown eyes and neat braids of twelve-year-old Anna Moorhouse—the last girl to disappear—still plague Sally’s dreams. She has never stopped fighting to bring the devastated families back together, but all leads have gone cold. Until Sally receives a chilling call out of the blue: their former main suspect, in prison for another crime, wants to talk to her… alone. Desperate for answers, Sally races to interview him. But a horrifying discovery stops her in her tracks: a missing poster—on her daily running route, in the same style used four years ago—with Sally’s own face on it… Not only is Sally in grave danger, but the more threats she receives, the more convinced she becomes that the killer is a lot closer to home than she ever could have imagined… But can Sally finally catch him before any more innocents disappear—and before Sally herself becomes his next victim…?

Music from the busy dancefloor echoes into the deserted room where the Prom Queen lies deadly still. A tiara rests on her soft blonde curls, but her face is frozen with fear, and her painted red lips are forever sealed shut in a silenced scream… When Detective Amanda Steele’s niece, Ava, begs her to look for a missing schoolfriend, she immediately agrees to take on the case. Eighteen-year-old Reese left home three nights ago after fighting with her mother and hasn’t been seen since. But when the teenager’s body is discovered brutally murdered, poised dramatically at the prom venue, Amanda is devastated she didn’t save the girl in time. Haunted by the scene, Amanda dives headfirst into the case. Chasing every lead, she is horrified when she discovers a potential key witness strangled in her own home. It soon becomes clear that the killer will stop at nothing to silence anyone who might reveal their identity. So when Ava mentions she saw someone acting strangely at the prom venue that night, Amanda’s heart stops. And when Amanda’s worst nightmare comes true, and her beloved niece is taken, she knows that every second counts to uncover this twisted killer’s identity and bring Ava home safely. But can she crack the secrets of this killer’s deadly game before it’s too late? Taken Girls is by Carolyn Arnold.

The Mother at Number 5 is by Jill Childs. You thought you’d escaped. But then she moved next door.  As the moving van pulls up at number 5, a mother and daughter hop out. ‘Lovely to see you again,’ the mother says, giving me a knowing smile. ‘I’m so glad you told us about this lovely town’. As I take in her tanned arms and her neat dark bob, my blood runs cold with recognition. We met once on a summer holiday. I let slip a terrible secret, something no one here must ever know… but why has she moved to my street? I look into the mother’s sparkling blue eyes. The kind of eyes you just want to trust. And shouldn’t. I watch her sad little daughter, who never says a word. Fear rushes through me as I remember the night we met. I’m sure I never told her where we live. As if she can read my mind she leans in close and says, ‘Don’t worry, you’d had a few drinks. Your secret’s safe with me.’ But then my kind, loving husband comes home in pieces. She’s accused him of something terrible, something I know he would never, ever do. The idea of losing my husband is terrifying. My new neighbour has gone too far. The mother at number 5 has underestimated me ever since the night we met. And she has no idea what I’ll do to protect those I love… 

It was only supposed to be a small wedding. Intimate and perfect. But my blood turns to ice when I see someone I know wasn’t invited. My first husband – who I thought was dead. My world shattered when Declan disappeared five years ago. My grown-up children fell apart without their father, and it was up to me to pick up the pieces of our broken lives. I never thought I’d get married again but then I met George. Some people might think we’re moving too fast. But as I look round on our wedding day at our little family, the sounds of laughter and clinking glasses ringing out, I know that I’ve made the right decision. Until Declan steps out the shadows. He says he still loves me, and now he’s back for good. But where has he been all this time? My legs shake so much that I can barely stand… Even though he lied to me so many times, as I stare into Declan’s sparkling blue eyes I realise that my new husband can’t compare to the love we once shared. But at least I can trust George. Can’t I? Before I even have a chance to decide, Declan is found murdered. A chill races down my spine as I realise – his killer must be one of our wedding party. Did Declan bring back secrets that should have stayed buried? Now, we’re trapped in this house in the middle of nowhere and my heart pounds as I realise there’s no escape. Why is Declan dead? And can I get me and my children out of here before one of us is next…? The Party is by Triona Walsh.

Death in the Highlands is by Fliss Chester. There’s a dangerous killer lurking by this loch… and only canny Cressida can track them down. Scotland, June 1925. Socialite Cressida Fawcett has been invited to cast her interior design eye over the Stirling family’s new seat, Ayrton Castle, up in the Scottish Highlands. Thrilled to be spending the summer at the historic estate, Cressida fills her suitcase with this season’s hunting jackets – and some tartan for her little pug Ruby, of course! But before the party is ready to tramp through the glens, shocking news puts paid to their plans. Hamish Glenkirk, former owner of Ayrton, has been found dead inside a turret room of the castle. The door was bolted from the inside, and the room is three storeys up, surrounded by impenetrable stone walls… How did the murderer get in? And out? With Detective Andrews of Scotland Yard at least a day’s journey away, Cressida knows she needs to get to the bottom of this case – and fast. There’s no end of suspects among the hunting party. Could it be the local doctor whose wife left him for a fling with the now-dead laird? Or is the gamekeeper hiding secrets under his kilt? Just as Cressida is closing in on the truth, a blood-curdling scream echoes through the mist. Another member of the party, and one of the suspects, has been shot. With a wee dram in hand, can Cressida find the killer before the bagpipes play for another victim?

They lie on the hillside, wearing matching white dresses, tiaras in their blonde hair. Each of them clutches a red rose. They could be sleeping, but frost shines on the lashes of their wide blue eyes, frozen open forever… Detective Lexi Bennett is devastated when she finds the two teenagers lying side by side on the quiet green hillside, their throats cut. Convinced this is no ordinary killer, she vows to draw on all her profiling experience to find justice for these beautiful girls who will never have the chance to grow up. But when the victims are identified as Lucy and Eden Carter, Lexi’s blood turns cold. The sisters were triplets – and the third girl, Paige, is missing. The case suddenly feels frighteningly personal. Lexi was a triplet too, and she and her sisters were abducted as teens. Two of them escaped but Lexi’s dreams are still haunted by memories of the faceless man who took them, and her sister Rose, who she never saw again. Her boss thinks she’s too close to the case, but Lexi is sure the monster who took her is back with a message. She throws herself into the investigation, hunting down every clue, certain that time is running out to save Paige. Then she returns home to find the back door open and Rose’s diary on the kitchen table. As she traces her beloved sister’s handwriting, her heart breaking, Lexi swears she will not rest until this brutal monster is caught. Will the diary help her find him before Paige is killed? Or is she walking into a trap designed just for her? The Girls on Chalk Hill is by Alison Belsham.

The Party on Laurel Street is by Ruth Heald. Only she knows what really happened that night… It was meant to be a time of celebration, of neighbours chatting over sparkling glasses of wine, enjoying the decadent surroundings of the huge mansion house which overlooked all the houses on Laurel Street. But then my troubled friend Gabbie has a heated argument with her husband. She leaves the party and disappears without a trace. Gabbie’s neighbours rally round, painfully aware that Laurel Street has already had its share of tragedy. Years ago, when we were children, my best friend Erin vanished, never to be seen again, after having a secret party in the woods with me and Gabbie as our families celebrated the new year. I want Gabbie to be found safe. I need her to come home. Because if she doesn’t, I know that all eyes will be on me as they were years ago. But then I discover that my husband Luke was the last person to see Gabbie alive and I’m reminded of all the times I saw them getting close. As much as I pushed it to the back of my mind, I have to ask, can I really trust them? And worse, is someone about to make me pay for the secret I’ve been keeping for so long?

Glitzy parties, sightseeing at the Statue of Liberty and strolls through Central Park with Gladstone the bulldog… Lady Eleanor Swift is loving her first trip to the city that never sleeps, until she witnesses a murder! After crossing from England on the SS Celestiana, Lady Eleanor Swift sets up her home-away-from-home in a lavish apartment in New York City. She is soon the toast of the town, with no high-class soirée complete without her presence. Of course, she drags her butler Clifford and Gladstone the bulldog along to every party too. But when she witnesses the charming doorman of her building, Marty, knocked down and killed in a hit-and-run, she finds fashionable society suddenly closes rank. The only local detective interested in helping her find the culprit is street-smart beat cop, Officer Balowski. Resolved to get justice for Marty and his family, Eleanor searches Marty’s tiny apartment and is shocked to find five rolls of banknotes tucked under the floorboards. Money talks, but Marty was struggling to make ends meet, so where did the cash come from? The next day, wealthy entrepreneur and flashy philanderer Ogden P. Dellaney – a man Marty used to work for – is found dead downtown, miles away from his swanky Upper East Side mansion. Eleanor and Balowski are sure the deaths are connected, but not even Dellaney’s wife is willing to answer their questions. Then Eleanor is served with an eviction notice and Balowski is fired from the NYPD. It becomes clear that something is rotten in the Big Apple and Eleanor is determined to get to the core of the mystery before the murderer strikes again…Murder in Manhattan is by Verity Bright.

The Truth About the Accident is by Nicole Trope. I gaze at my husband’s once-handsome face, so still and pale in the hospital bed. The doctors say I should keep talking. He might be able to hear me even after the terrible accident that left him fighting for his life. But all I have to whisper to my husband is this: I know what you did. Every day I wave my husband Damon off with a kiss and a smile, drive our precious children to school, and make sure our house is pristine before preparing a delicious meal. I pretend I’m not filled with fury that he once nearly destroyed our perfect life. It’s important to carry on as normal. That is, until the accident. My husband was hit by a car. It was pouring with rain. Nobody saw what happened. But the police are asking questions… Do they know about the terrible argument we had that day? Do they know about the text message I sent, telling someone to Delete everything? And do they know that no-one is happier that my husband is in a hospital bed, than me?

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