Fiction Review

Sulari Gentill’s The Woman in the Library

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Congratulations to Sourcebooks/Poisoned Pen Press author Sulari Gentill. Her latest novel, The Woman in the Library, is the top pick on the June list for LibraryReads. You can order a copy in hardcover or paperback through the Web Store. https://bit.ly/3MsIXTi

LibraryReads’ website says, “LibraryReads is the monthly nationwide library staff picks list for adult fiction and non-fiction. Our goal is to help connect readers to as many books as possible, while drawing upon the incredible power that public library staff has in helping to build word-of-mouth for new books, and the important role that libraries play in creating audiences for all kinds of authors.

“Rather than picking “the best” of anything, LibraryReads represents collective favorites—the books library staff loved reading and cannot wait to share.”

For June, The Woman in the Library tops the list. Since I wrote the starred review for Library Journal, let me share that review.

 Writer Freddie Kincaid studies the people sharing her table at the Boston Public Library, naming them “Freud Girl,” “Heroic Chin,” and “Handsome Man.” They hear a scream and learn that a woman has been murdered—that’s when Freddie says one of them is a killer. The subsequent story is Freddie’s account of her growing friendship with those three, attacks on two of them, and the growing awareness that one is attacking the others. But Hannah Tignone, a best-selling Australian author, is actually writing the story of Freddie and her new friends. The story within a story alternates Hannah’s writing with letters written to her by a wannabe author, Leo, who suggests changes to Hannah’s plot and characters. Freddie’s account of trying to discover which of her new friends is a killer is an engrossing mystery. At the same time, Hannah’s communication from the FBI allows the reader a glimpse into the life of a writer with a fanatical correspondent.

VERDICT Ned Kelly Award winner Gentill (Crossing the Lines) presents a complex, riveting story within a story. The fictional story of an author writing about another writer with messy, complicated friendships and suspicion is an innovative literary mystery.

Reviewed by Lesa Holstine , May 01, 2022


Here’s the summary of The Woman in the Library.

In every person’s story, there is something to hide…

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who’d happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

Award-winning author Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with THE WOMAN IN THE LIBRARY, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.


After setting out to study astrophysics, graduating in law and then abandoning her legal career to write books, SULARI GENTILL now grows French black truffles on her farm in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains of Australia.


Gentill’s Rowland Sinclair mysteries have won and/or been shortlisted for the Davitt Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and her stand-alone metafiction thriller, After She Wrote Him won the Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Novel in 2018. Her tenth Sinclair novel, A Testament of Character, was shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Best Crime Novel in 2021.

Chris Bohjalian’s First Poisoned Pen Appearance

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Chris Bohjalian’s recent in-person appearance at The Poisoned Pen was his first one ever. That gave Barbara Peters, the owner of the bookstore, the chance to talk with him about his latest book, The Lioness, as well as Bohjalian’s earlier books. There are signed copies of The Lioness available through the Web Store. https://bit.ly/3wmcGGA

Here’s the description of The Lioness.

A luxurious African safari turns deadly for a Hollywood starlet and her entourage in this riveting historical thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Flight Attendant.
 
“The best possible combination of Hemingway and Agatha Christie — a gorgeously written story about the landscape and risks of Africa, whose edge-of-your-seat plot makes it impossible to put down.”
—Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wish You Were Here

Tanzania, 1964. When Katie Barstow, A-list actress, and her new husband, David Hill, decide to bring their Hollywood friends to the Serengeti for their honeymoon, they envision giraffes gently eating leaves from the tall acacia trees, great swarms of wildebeests crossing the Mara River, and herds of zebras storming the sandy plains. Their glamorous guests—including Katie’s best friend, Carmen Tedesco, and Terrance Dutton, the celebrated Black actor who stars alongside Katie in the highly controversial film Tender Madness—will spend their days taking photos, and their evenings drinking chilled gin and tonics back at camp, as the local Tanzanian guides warm water for their baths. The wealthy Americans expect civilized adventure: fresh ice from the kerosene-powered ice maker, dinners of cooked gazelle meat, and plenty of stories to tell over lunch back on Rodeo Drive.

What Katie and her glittering entourage do not expect is this: a kidnapping gone wrong, their guides bleeding out in the dirt, and a team of Russian mercenaries herding their hostages into Land Rovers, guns to their heads. As the powerful sun gives way to night, the gunmen shove them into abandoned huts and Katie Barstow, Hollywood royalty, prays for a simple thing: to see the sun rise one more time. A blistering story of fame, race, love, and death set in a world on the cusp of great change, The Lioness is a vibrant masterpiece from one of our finest storytellers.


CHRIS BOHJALIAN is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-three books, including Hour of the Witch, The Red Lotus, Midwives, and The Flight Attendant, which has been made into an HBO Max limited series starring Kaley Cuoco. His other books include The Guest Room; Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands; The Sandcastle Girls; Skeletons at the Feast; and The Double Bind. His novels Secrets of Eden, Midwives, and Past the Bleachers were made into movies, and his work has been translated into more than thirty-five languages. He is also a playwright (Wingspan and Midwives). He lives in Vermont and can be found at chrisbohjalian.com or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Litsy, and Goodreads, @chrisbohjalian


Even if you don’t listen to the entire event, you should listen to the beginning of the video when he talks about his voice, and then talks later about COVID.

The Men of May

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You don’t want to miss any of the events coming up in the next few days at The Poisoned Pen. Here’s the schedule for this week. Check out these authors’ books in the Web Store. https://store.poisonedpen.com/

Linwood Barclay
Jack Carr
Robin Peguero
Adrian McKinty
Graham Brown

Isabel Canas’ Debut Mystery

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The Hacienda is Isabel Canas’ debut mystery. It’s The Poisoned Pen’s May First Mystery of the Month, and there are still a few signed copies available in the Web Store. https://bit.ly/37HK9D6 Canas’ conversation was with Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen as well as with Jayne Ann Krentz and J.T. Ellison.

Here’s the description of The Hacienda.

Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca in this debut supernatural suspense novel, set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, about a remote house, a sinister haunting, and the woman pulled into their clutches…

During the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father was executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security that his estate in the countryside provides. She will have her own home again, no matter the cost.

But Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.

When Rodolfo returns to work in the capital, visions and voices invade Beatriz’s sleep. The weight of invisible eyes follows her every move. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, scoffs at Beatriz’s fears—but why does she refuse to enter the house at night? Why does the cook burn copal incense at the edge of the kitchen and mark the doorway with strange symbols? What really happened to the first Doña Solórzano?

Beatriz only knows two things for certain: Something is wrong with the hacienda. And no one there will save her.

Desperate for help, she clings to the young priest, Padre Andrés, as an ally. No ordinary priest, Andrés will have to rely on his skills as a witch to fight off the malevolent presence haunting the hacienda and protect the woman for whom he feels a powerful, forbidden attraction. But even he might not be enough to battle the darkness.

Far from a refuge, San Isidro may be Beatriz’s doom.


Isabel Cañas is a Mexican-American speculative fiction writer. After having lived in Mexico, Scotland, Egypt, and Turkey, among other places, she has settled (for now) in New York City, where she works on her PhD dissertation in medieval Islamic literature and writes fiction inspired by her research and her heritage.


Enjoy the conversation about horror and writing.

Mike Lupica & Sunny Randall

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Mike Lupica recently appeared at The Poisoned Pen, hosted by Barbara Peters, owner of the bookstore. Lupica reveals that Robert B. Parker’s Revenge Tour is his last Sunny Randall novel. Alison Gaylin is picking up the Sunny Randall series. But, Spenser and Hawk appear in Revenge Tour, and Lupica will be writing the Spenser series. Peters says Hawk sounds so much like Hawk in Parker’s books. No promises that you can still get a signed copy of Revenge Tour through the Web Store. https://bit.ly/3McUGFB

Robert B. Parker’s PI Sunny Randall’s newest case hits close to home in ways she never expected in her latest thrilling investigation.

PI Sunny Randall owes a favor. Her landlord and former client, famous novelist Melanie Joan Hall, is being threatened and blackmailed, and it is up to Sunny and her best friend Spike to ensure her protection. But as Sunny looks into the identity of Melanie Joan’s stalker, she learns that much of the author’s past is a product of her amazing imagination, and her loyalty to her old friend is challenged as she searches for the truth.

At the same time, Sunny springs into action when her aging ex-cop father, Phil, is threatened by a shady lawyer with a desire to settle an old score. Fighting crimes on two fronts, Sunny must use all of her savvy, and the help of her friends, in order to protect those she loves. And one thing is for sure with both of these cases: this time, it’s personal.  


Robert B. Parker was the author of seventy books, including the legendary Spenser detective series, the novels featuring police chief Jesse Stone, and the acclaimed Virgil Cole/Everett Hitch Westerns, as well as the Sunny Randall novels. Winner of the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award and long considered the undisputed dean of American crime fiction, he died in January 2010. Mike Lupica is a prominent sports journalist and the New York Times-bestselling author of more than forty works of fiction and nonfiction. A longtime friend to Robert B. Parker, he was selected by the Parker estate to continue the Sunny Randall series.


Enjoy the conversation between Mike Lupica and Barbara Peters.

Alma Katsu & The Fervor

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Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, recently hosted Alma Katsu for a virtual event. Katsu was supposed to appear for a live event, but she was felled by a sinus infection. That means signed copies of The Fervor will be available, but it will take a little while to go to her, back to the bookstore, and then out to those who buy it through the Web Store. https://bit.ly/3wp3YHF

Katsu calls The Fervor a historical horror novel. Here’s the description.

The acclaimed author of the celebrated literary horror novels The Hunger and The Deep turns her psychological and supernatural eye on the horrors of the Japanese American internment camps in World War II.

1944: As World War II rages on, the threat has come to the home front. In a remote corner of Idaho, Meiko Briggs and her daughter, Aiko, are desperate to return home. Following Meiko’s husband’s enlistment as an air force pilot in the Pacific months prior, Meiko and Aiko were taken from their home in Seattle and sent to one of the internment camps in the Midwest. It didn’t matter that Aiko was American-born: They were Japanese, and therefore considered a threat by the American government.

Mother and daughter attempt to hold on to elements of their old life in the camp when a mysterious disease begins to spread among those interned. What starts as a minor cold quickly becomes spontaneous fits of violence and aggression, even death. And when a disconcerting team of doctors arrive, nearly more threatening than the illness itself, Meiko and her daughter team up with a newspaper reporter and widowed missionary to investigate, and it becomes clear to them that something more sinister is afoot, a demon from the stories of Meiko’s childhood, hell-bent on infiltrating their already strange world.  

Inspired by the Japanese yokai and the jorogumo spider demon, The Fervor explores the horrors of the supernatural beyond just the threat of the occult. With a keen and prescient eye, Katsu crafts a terrifying story about the danger of demonization, a mysterious contagion, and the search to stop its spread before it’s too late. A sharp account of too-recent history, it’s a deep excavation of how we decide who gets to be human when being human matters most. 


Alma Katsu is the award-winning author of six novels, most recently Red WidowThe Deep, and The Hunger. She is a graduate of the master’s writing program at the Johns Hopkins University and received her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University. Prior to the publication of her first novel, Katsu had a long career as a senior intelligence analyst for several U.S. agencies. She lives in West Virginia with her husband.


Here’s the event with Alma Katsu.

Christopher Reich & Once a Thief

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Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, welcomed back Christopher Reich. His latest novel, Once a Thief is a Simon Riske novel. You can find signed copies of it through the Web Store. https://bit.ly/37A9oHo

Here’s the summary of Once a Thief.

Facing enemies at every turn, private spy Simon Riske dashes across Europe to find the truth behind a mysterious investor in this high-stakes international espionage series for which “comparison to the Bond novels is apt in many ways.” (Booklist)Simon Riske sits in sun-dappled Napa Valley, toasting the record hundred-million-dollar sale of a rare 1963 Ferrari which he restored himself. The buyer, a sophisticated French woman, Sylvie Bettencourt, has purchased the car for an unnamed client whose anonymity she will guard at all costs. Riske enjoys her company and the flowing champagne until Sylvie’s formidable Russian bodyguard storms in, claiming the vehicle is a fake. Riske is given an ultimatum. Prove the car is the real thing…or else.

Meanwhile, in Lugano, Switzerland, Carl Bildt, banker to the rich and nefarious, is killed by a powerful car bomb, moments before he can deliver evidence to the authorities and disappear into witness protection. His beautiful and headstrong daughter, Anna, rushes to Switzerland to investigate her father’s violent death.

As Simon Riske strives to prove the Ferraris’ authenticity and look deeper into Sylvie’s past–and the identity of her client—he crosses paths with Anna Bildt and discovers they have an enemy in common.  From the bustling streets of London to a secret outpost high in the French Alps, from the freeports of Corsica to the glittering beaches of the Costa Smeralda, the Emerald Coast, of Sardinia, Riske and Anna find themselves players in a deadly game, where billions of dollars change hands and knowledge is paid for with your life.

Told with Reich’s signature stylish prose, clever plotting, and pulse-pounding action sequences, Once a Thief, is sure to appeal to longtime fans of the series and newcomers alike. Riske may be a bit older, showing a little wear and tear, but his desire to get the job done at any cost is stronger than ever.


Christopher Reich is the New York Times bestselling author of The Take, Numbered Account, Rules of Deception, Rules of Vengeance, Rules of Betrayal, and many other thrillers. His novel The Patriots Club won the International Thriller Writers award for Best Novel in 2006. He lives in Encinitas, California.


Enjoy the conversation with Christopher Reich.

Chris Bohjalian’s Hot Book of the Week

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Chris Bohjalian will appear at The Poisoned Pen on Sunday, May 15 at 2 PM for a live in-person event. Signed copies of Bohjalian’s The Lioness, the bookstore’s Hot Book of the Week, are available through the Web Store. https://bit.ly/3wmcGGA

Here’s the description of The Lioness.

A luxurious African safari turns deadly for a Hollywood starlet and her entourage in this riveting historical thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Flight Attendant.
 
“The best possible combination of Hemingway and Agatha Christie — a gorgeously written story about the landscape and risks of Africa, whose edge-of-your-seat plot makes it impossible to put down.”
—Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wish You Were Here

Tanzania, 1964. When Katie Barstow, A-list actress, and her new husband, David Hill, decide to bring their Hollywood friends to the Serengeti for their honeymoon, they envision giraffes gently eating leaves from the tall acacia trees, great swarms of wildebeests crossing the Mara River, and herds of zebras storming the sandy plains. Their glamorous guests—including Katie’s best friend, Carmen Tedesco, and Terrance Dutton, the celebrated Black actor who stars alongside Katie in the highly controversial film Tender Madness—will spend their days taking photos, and their evenings drinking chilled gin and tonics back at camp, as the local Tanzanian guides warm water for their baths. The wealthy Americans expect civilized adventure: fresh ice from the kerosene-powered ice maker, dinners of cooked gazelle meat, and plenty of stories to tell over lunch back on Rodeo Drive.

What Katie and her glittering entourage do not expect is this: a kidnapping gone wrong, their guides bleeding out in the dirt, and a team of Russian mercenaries herding their hostages into Land Rovers, guns to their heads. As the powerful sun gives way to night, the gunmen shove them into abandoned huts and Katie Barstow, Hollywood royalty, prays for a simple thing: to see the sun rise one more time. A blistering story of fame, race, love, and death set in a world on the cusp of great change, The Lioness is a vibrant masterpiece from one of our finest storytellers.


CHRIS BOHJALIAN is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-three books, including Hour of the Witch, The Red Lotus, Midwives, and The Flight Attendant, which has been made into an HBO Max limited series starring Kaley Cuoco. His other books include The Guest Room; Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands; The Sandcastle Girls; Skeletons at the Feast; and The Double Bind. His novels Secrets of Eden, Midwives, and Past the Bleachers were made into movies, and his work has been translated into more than thirty-five languages. He is also a playwright (Wingspan and Midwives). He lives in Vermont and can be found at chrisbohjalian.com or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Litsy, and Goodreads, @chrisbohjalian

Amanda Quick (Jayne Ann Krentz) & When She Dreams

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When She Dreams is the sixth book in Amanda Quick’s Burning Cove series, set in 1930s California. Quick, who is actually Jayne Ann Krentz, appeared for a virtual event for The Poisoned Pen, hosted by John Charles. You can order a copy of When She Dreams through the Web Store. https://bit.ly/3PbEaHK There might even be some signed copies available.

Here’s the summary of When She Dreams.

Return to 1930s Burning Cove, California, the glamorous seaside playground for Hollywood stars, mobsters, spies, and a host of others who find more than they bargain for in this mysterious town.
 
Maggie Lodge, assistant to the reclusive advice columnist known only as Dear Aunt Cornelia to her readers, hires down-but-not-quite-out private eye Sam Sage to help track down the person who is blackmailing her employer. Maggie and Sam are a mismatched pair. As far as Sam is concerned, Maggie is reckless and in over her head. She is not what he had in mind for a client, but he can’t afford to be choosy. Maggie, on the other hand, is convinced that Sam is badly in need of guidance and good advice. She does not hesitate to give him both.
 
In spite of the verbal fireworks between them, they are fiercely attracted to each other, but each is convinced it would be a mistake to let passion take over. They are, after all, keeping secrets from each other. Sam is haunted by his past, which includes a marriage shattered by betrayal and violence. Maggie is troubled by intense and vivid dreams—dreams that she can sometimes control. There are those who want to run experiments on her and use her for their own purposes, while others think she should be committed to an asylum.
 
When the pair discovers someone is impersonating Aunt Cornelia at a conference on psychic dreaming and a woman dies at the conference, the door is opened to a dangerous web of blackmail and murder. Secrets from the past are revealed, leaving Maggie and Sam in the path of a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to exact vengeance.


Enjoy the conversation with Quick and Charles.


Amanda Quick is a pseudonym for Jayne Ann Krentz, the author, under various pen names, of more than fifty New York Times bestsellers. There are more than 35 million copies of her books in print. She is also the author of the Ladies of Lantern Street novels and the Arcane Society series.

Dana Stabenow Hosts Marc Cameron

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Dana Stabenow is the perfect host for Marc Cameron. As a fellow Alaska resident, she understands the Alaska connection in Cameron’s latest book, Cold Snap. Signed copies of Cold Snap, the fourth Arliss Cutter novel, are available through the Web Store. https://bit.ly/3NdQDJh

Here’s the summary of Cold Snap.

“Cameron’s books are riveting page-turners.” —Mark Greaney, #1 New York Times bestselling author

The bestselling author of the latest Tom Clancy, Jack Ryan novels delivers an adrenaline-filled new thriller featuring Deputy US Marshal Arliss Cutter! Stranded with three violent prisoners in the deadly Alaskan wilderness, Cutter will become the hunter and the hunted…

After an early spring thaw on the Alaskan coast, Anchorage police discover a gruesome new piece of evidence in their search for a serial killer: a dismembered human foot.

In Kincaid Park, a man is arrested for attacking a female jogger. Investigators believe they have finally have their suspect. But one deputy is sure they have the wrong man.

In the remote northern town of Deadhorse, Alaska, Supervisory Deputy US Marshal Arliss Cutter escorts four very dangerous handcuffed prisoners onto a small bush plane en route to Fairbanks. Cutter’s expecting a routine mission and a nonstop flight—or so he thinks. When the plane goes down in the wilderness, all hell breaks loose. The prisoners murder the pilot and a guard and torch the plane. But their nightmare’s just beginning. Back in Anchorage, deputy Lola Teariki has traced the dismembered foot to a missing girl—and the serial psychopath who slaughtered her.

It’s one of the prisoners on Cutter’s flight…

Now it’s a deadly game of survival. With no means of communication, few supplies, and ravenous grizzly bears and wolves lurking in the shadows, Cutter has to battle the unforgiving elements while the killer wants his head on a stick. Here in Alaska, nature can be cruel—but this time, human nature is crueler…

“Well-developed characters complement the nonstop action. Cameron viscerally conveys Alaska’s austere beauty as well as its unexpected dangers.” – Publishers Weekly


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Marc Cameron, a native of Texas and now a resident of Alaska, has spent over three decades in law enforcement. He is the award-winning author of the Arliss Cutter and the Jericho Quinn series, as well as the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan Sr. books, starting with Power and Empire in 2017. Early in his career, he served as a uniformed police officer, mounted (horse patrol) officer, and detective before accepting a position with the United States Marshals Service and serving as a Deputy, Fugitive Task Force Commander, Supervisory Deputy, Senior Inspector, and Chief. His assignments have taken him from rural Alaska to Manhattan, from Canada to Mexico and points in between. A second-degree black belt in jujitsu, he often teaches defensive tactics to other law enforcement agencies and civilian groups. Cameron presently lives in Alaska with his wife and his BMW motorcycle. Visit him online at MarcCameronBooks.com.


Enjoy the conversation between Marc Cameron and Dana Stabenow.