An unorthodox detective goes in search of a bullied girl who's disappeared and a disgraced ex-cop and a convicted killer are Australia's least likely detective duo when a child goes missing from the hotel where his parents are dining, and, when the mortality rate at a nursing home suddenly soars, a Krakow socialite combines charity work with amateur sleuthing to hunt down the killer. It's not all kidnapping and murder this month though: in our final pick, an abused daughter offers her mother shelter when she gets out of jail. Y'know, for some levity.
The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben
Thirty years ago, Wilde was found as a boy living in the woods, with no memory of his past. Now an adult, he still has no memory of who or where he comes from. When Hester Crimstein, a television criminal attorney with whom Wilde has a tragic connection, tells him her grandson says one of his classmates, Naomi Pine, has disappeared following years of being relentlessly bullied at school, Wilde agrees to Hester’s plea to find her. The thing is, no one seems to know or care that Naomi is missing. Even her father shows Wilde the door when he comes asking questions. Nobody writes a thriller as taut as Coben. While a couple of different narrative threads emerge in this thriller, Coben keeps them perfectly in hand, and the novel just rockets along, picking up speed until the reveal. And while it was lovely to see Hester Crimstein crop up in a Coben novel again, new character Wilde anchors the The Boy from the Woods perfectly. Here’s hoping we see him again.
Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox
Things are finally looking up for Ted Conkaffey in this, the third book in the excellent Crimson Lake series. Falsely accused of murdering a young girl a year or two ago, he was released for lack of evidence, and people are just now starting to believe in his innocence. His foster geese are in good health, his work as a P.I. with his partner, Amanda, is going well, and best of all, he is being allowed to spend time with his infant daughter for the first time since she was born. So a case involving a missing boy—and the media firestorm that ensues—is exactly what he doesn’t need. Conkaffey is a good guy, accused of being a bad guy, and Amanda is a good girl, albeit one with a murder conviction in her past. How these two pariahs combine their investigative skills, mitigate the trauma they’ve endured, and tick off law enforcement, is masterfully handled by Fox. This series started strong and just keeps getting better.
Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
In Darling Rose Gold, Patty Gold is getting out of prison after serving a five-year stretch for child abuse. Given that it was her own daughter, Rose, she abused, readers may be surprised to read that it is Rose who waits for her outside the prison. Rose, who was persuaded she was in poor health all through her childhood. Rose, whose physical appearance—the result of Patty’s abuse—has resulted in her being bullied for years by her classmates. With Rose’s father out of the picture, the backstory of how Patty landed in prison is narrated by both Rose and her mother, but neither can be trusted to be a reliable narrator. Patty is the architect of what can only be classified as a particularly horrific case of Munchausen by proxy, but still protests it was done out of love. Rose has her own opinions about that. Darkly funny in places, horrifying, with twists you’ll expect—and a couple you won’t—Darling Rose Gold could well be 2020’s The Silent Patient.
Mrs. Mohr Goes Missing by Maryla Szymiczkowa
In 1893 Cracow a bright and curious socialite like Zofia Turbotynska, has trouble occupying her days while her husband, a professor, works at a nearby university. Even planning a charity auction sponsored by the wealthy residents of a local nursing home isn’t enough to whet her appetite for fun, adventure, and gossip. But when one of the residents turns up dead, Zofia finds a new way to fill her days: solving crime. Unfortunately, the local police are not on board with Zofia’s new calling. They determine that the resident died of natural causes and they close the book on it. And they would like Zofia to do the same. So Zofia conducts her investigation privately, telling no one but her cook Franciszka and one disapproving nun. Inspired by the works of Agatha Christie, Mrs. Mohr Goes Missing breathes new life into the cozy, setting the story in Cracow’s high society (fascinating in itself) while offering up a funny and charming story of a woman discovering her passion.
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