Force of Nature by Jane Harper

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Jane Harper’s first book, The Dry, took us into the punishingly hot Australian outback. Now, Detective Aaron Falk and his new partner, Carmen, are sent into the heavy, close, jungle-like Giralang Mountain Ranges.

Alice Russell, one of five women on a corporate team-building trail retreat, has disappeared. Tensions between the returning survivors are high, and Aaron and Carmen must get to the bottom of what happened – as well as hope to find Alice in a race against time and nature.

I can’t convey how excellent Harper is at creating tension and atmosphere, and I can’t convey how masterfully she balances the mystery with a sense of simmering tension. I should also mention that each of her mysteries is impressively real. The situation and characters (and detectives!) all feel natural and organic – nothing far-fetched to be found.

Engaging, human mystery with a real sense of pervasive danger set against nature’s stunning (and vicious) backdrop – this should be on your reading list. (Submitted by Veronica)

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The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

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As a mystery reader and audiobook fan, I love it when both combine to create the perfect literary experience. The Keeper of Lost Causes, and other works by Jussi Adler-Olsen, are available in four formats but I highly recommend the audio narrated by Erik Davies. The Keeper of Lost Causes introduces Carl Morck, a crusty Danish cop who’s recovering from a brutal shootout  that has left one of his partners dead and the other paralyzed. Unpopular with his peers, Carl is assigned to lead the newly created Department Q in Copenhagen to work on cold cases. There he battles his superiors, his guilt, personal life, and the complex, years-old case involving the disappearance of a young female politician.

All the characters, from the victim to Morck and his quirky team, quickly develop into people you want to know more about. None disappoint as they lead you through a satisfying plot to a knuckle-whitening conclusion. The great news is that there are more titles in this series, all equally as enthralling. (Submitted by Pippa)

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The Dry by Jane Harper

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The Dry is Jane Harper’s debut novel, set in a remote rural town in Australia. Immediately the story has an atmosphere radiating heat, tension and small-town secrets. It introduces Federal Agent Aaron Falk who was run out of town as a teen, returning to attend the funeral of his estranged best friend who’s killed his wife and son in a murder-suicide. I found myself engrossed in the town’s colourful residents, their past and their current tensions as they struggle in the grip of a severe drought that’s bringing their lives to the brink of ruin. Rich in Australian culture and interesting characters, it was hard to put the book down and the ending was both a surprise and a satisfying resolution. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery or is into Liane Moriarty’s novels. (Submitted by Pippa)

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The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor

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This book came to my attention a few years ago but I didn’t have a chance to read it until now. I really liked it and I’m torn between being sorry that it took me so long to get to it and glad that I finally did.

It fits into so many categories, historical fiction, romance (I use this one cautiously), and a mystery though it isn’t classified as one. Notice I didn’t say it was a ghost story but it is loaded with atmosphere especially as it takes place in 18th century Cambridge, England. The author shows a cloistered, mostly male, world of the academics which was political, religious and blasphemous mix, but he also offers a glimpse into the life of the people who serve that world and the Cambridge of that time. I can’t wait to read more of this author’s works. (Submitted by Renee)

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Yarned and Dangerous by Sadie Hartwell

Yarned and Dangerous ebook by Sadie HartwellFor those who like mysteries, but not the blood, guts, gore and guns type, this book is for you. Set in an “almost” ghost town, comprised of one knitting shop, a garage and a grocery store/café; 1 accidental death plus 1 murder equals many many secrets held in this small town.  Josie arrives in town to care for her crotchety  great-uncle who needs an extra hand with farm chores until he is back on his feet again.  Josie is definitely NOT the country girl as she hails from New York, and is taking a leave from a fashion designer job. Her uncle recently lost his wife Cora, in an accident and she was the sole proprietor of the knitting shop – aptly named Miss Marple Knits. The remaining members of the Charity Knitters Association seem to be tying knots in every murder theory Josie has.  Told from a knitter’s perspective, (includes several knitting patterns),  this cozy mystery shows that when you band together, you can get things done, including solving a murder or two!  First in a series called  “ A Tangled Web Mystery”. (Submitted by Jamie).

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Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Image result for help for the haunted book coverThis winter I read a different kind of Christmas story: Help for the Haunted by John Searles. The book follows the young, virtuous and strident Sylvie, who has recently lost her infamous ghost-hunting parents in a mysterious incident just before Christmas. Sylvie witnessed their murders, but wonders if perhaps the wrong man has been convicted for the crime.  Avoiding the eye of her emotionally stunted and manipulative older sister, Sylvie must endure the horrors of her teenage years with no parents, as well as attempt to piece together the truth of who they were and what happened to them in a twisted, taciturn series of events that has stuck with me. Though I initially was attracted to the book for its classification as a horror novel (it isn’t scary, by the way!), I couldn’t put it down for the truly enthralling mystery and unusual subject matter. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a darker (slightly paranormal) mystery. (Submitted by Mandi).

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Blind Sight by Carol O’Connell

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The main character in this story is Kathy Mallory, who prefers to be known as Mallory, a highly intelligent police detective in New York. She grew up on the streets and is not only street savvy but her high IQ leads her to solving crimes in a unique and sometimes “off the books” type of way. The latest case is that of a possible serial killer who has, perhaps inadvertently, kidnapped a witness, only to find that the witness, a young boy, was blind.  Jonah, the kidnap victim shows us that being blind doesn’t mean you miss out on what life has to offer. Smells, touch, sense (wind, heat, taste) all contribute to a very vivid circumstance that Jonah is determined to overcome. What is the kidnapper/killer to do with him?  Will Mallory find the boy alive or dead? As more and more secrets are revealed, from the rich to the poor, the politically mighty to the Catholic church, Mallory and the New York police are racing against time.   A well-written interwoven tale that keeps you guessing page turn after page turn. (Submitted by Jamie).

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