A novel that will haunt you long after the last page is turned; historical fiction based on a real-life socialite-turned-spy, and a white-knuckle thriller you won't want to put down.
Learn more about these and all of our picks for the Best Books of the Month.
Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
When a young Mexican girl is viciously raped and beaten by a brooding oil-slick cowboy, the small town of Odessa, Texas, must decide where the law lies and who they believe. Narrated by five women, Valentine is the story of how they survive amidst the 1970s violence, poverty, and racism that surrounds them. Despite their wounds, each of these women—whether victims or bystanders, young or old, lost or found, directly connected to the violence or not—are sunbaked strong and have been fighting for their lives as long as they can remember. Desperation, loneliness, and fear abound in this novel, but so too does care, compassion, and hope. Elizabeth Wetmore’s debut calls to mind Western greats like Larry McMurtry but supplants the hardened cowboys with fierce and courageous women. Haunting, powerful, and beautifully written, Valentine will linger with you long after you’ve finished the last page. —Al Woodworth
Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon
In 2015, a friend informed Ariel Lawhon, author of I Am Anastasia, that if she didn’t write about Nancy Wake, said friend would no longer speak to her. Lawhon resisted, and wrote I Am Anastasia instead. But she did start to read about Nancy Wake and her extraordinary life, fell in love with her, and realized that this was a woman whose name should be known. Her admiration for Wake comes through on every page of Code Name Hélène, so named for one of the four code names under which Wake operated as one of the most fearless and effective leaders of the French Resistance. With the same brio with which the Australian Wake talked her way into a job as a journalist for the Hearst Corporation, Lawhon interweaves four timelines, each one corresponding to the code name Nancy was using at the time. Armed with a code name, her signature red lipstick, an ability to negotiate arms deals over a bottle of brandy without ever losing out—or passing out—and a willingness to take to the battlefield while her husband held down the fort at home, Nancy Wake made the kinds of sacrifices that made heroes of other soldiers. That Code Name Hélène is also a wartime love story that can hold its own with such novels as The Nightingale is icing on a delicious gâteau. —Vannessa Cronin
Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia
Mindy Mejia’s Strike Me Down is a taut, complex mystery that pits brain against brawn. Nora is a forensic accountant for a Minnesota firm. When money goes missing, Nora is the one who finds it, and she’s foiled thieves all over the world, to the tune of millions of dollars. But when the husband of a legendary kickboxer with a growing fitness empire hires Nora’s firm to locate twenty million dollars in prize money that’s disappeared days before a tournament, Nora is hesitant. She’s got a connection to the company that may compromise her independence as an investigator. Pressured by her partner to take the case anyway, things go pear-shaped pretty quickly. With two strong female leads, allies who may turn out to be foes, and some unpredictable twists, Strike Me Down is an irresistible page-turner. —Vannessa Cronin
This week's releases include a novel set in 1970s Texas that will haunt you long after the last page is turned, historical fiction based on a real-life socialite-turned-spy, and a white-knuckle thriller you won't want to put down.