Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library

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Breaking In

After her father’s death, Gabrielle Union, who plays Shaun Russell, a mother of two, is at her father’s Wisconsin house to get the estate ready to sell. Her father’s house is an expansive, secluded property tucked into a wooded area.

While sipping a glass a wine and waiting on hold to order a pizza, Shaun is attacked outside the house with her children stuck inside, but she isn’t going down without a fight.

The attackers are after $4 million dollars that is stored in a safe somewhere in the house. Shaun will stop at nothing to defend her family and her home.

This thriller isn’t bad, but there is nothing particularly memorable here. Rated R


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An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

In this third novel from Lapena, a group of guests find themselves stuck at an upstate New York hotel during a snow storm. Everyone has a different reason for being there, but on the first morning one of the guests, Dana, is found dead at the bottom of the stairs.

Some believe that they heard fighting in Dana and her fiance’s room and don’t believe Dana’s death was an accident. David, a criminal attorney, advises everyone that they need to leave the body alone until the police can arrive. Because of the storm, they don’t have power and the authorities have no way to get them.

As the guests wait for the storm to pass, the bodies begin to pile up. Could the murderer be an outside guest they haven’t yet met, or someone within their group?

A little bit Agatha Christie mixed in with Clue (without the humor), readers who like a solid mystery will find this latest to their liking.  This one isn’t as dark as Lapena’s previous psychological thrillers, A Stranger in the House and The Couple Next Door.

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Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Suzette and her husband have taken their daughter, Hannah, to a myriad of doctors to determine why, at age seven, she hasn’t spoken yet. There doesn’t appear to be anything medically wrong with her, so the problem could be psychological, and the doctors refer them to a child psychologist.

However, Hannah has in fact spoken, but only to Suzette, in a French accent and is pretending to be a witch who was burned at the stake centuries ago. Hannah is an intelligent child who loves to torture her mother. From giving her a box of spiders to creating a morbid collage, Hannah is determined to make her mother’s life miserable.

And for Suzette, she wants Hannah gone, but unfortunately Hannah gets kicked out of every school she has attended.

The chapters alternate between the perspectives of both Suzette and Hannah, so readers get a glimpse of the story from both sides. Even those who like their suspense dark might find this novel too cringe-worthy for their tastes. I only finished this book because I wanted to see how it ended, but I would leery to recommend it to most readers.

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I’ve Got My Eyes On You by Mary Higgins Clark

High school senior Kerry Dowling is found dead in the pool of her parent’s Saddle River, NJ home, while they were away. It looks like she had a party that evening with her friends, but the motive for her death remains unclear.

Jamie, Kerry’s neighbor, who has a developmental disability, believes Kerry is just sleeping when he goes over to swim with her. Worried that the police will consider Jamie a suspect, his mother convinces Jamie not to tell anyone he was over at Kerry’s house the night of her murder.

Then there is Kerry’s boyfriend, Alan, who had gotten into a fight with Kerry shortly before she was murdered. The detective on the case is working with Kerry’s older sister, a counselor at the local high school, to see if they can locate the killer.

In typical MHC fashion there are a lot of characters to keep the list of suspects high. This is a short, simple novel of suspense that fulfills it’s purpose of being entertaining but there is nothing particularity lasting here.

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After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

On Easter Sunday, Maggie receives a phone call from her teenage daughter who is away at boarding school in Maine. This phone call is monumental since this is the first she has heard from Anna since she was an infant. Maggie was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis shortly after Anna’s birth, and her ex-husband had Maggie declared legally as unfit mother. As a result, she ultimately lost custody but always hoped one day she could get Anna back.

Anna is miserable at school, and with the death of her father, she wants to come live with Maggie in Pennsylvania. Noah, Maggie’s husband, and Caleb, Noah’s young son from his first marriage, can’t be more excited to have Anna join their family. But after Anna arrives, things go terribly wrong, and now Noah is on trial for Anna’s sudden and unexpected death.

High on courtroom drama, the story unfolds through Noah’s trial and before Anna arrived. Readers won’t suspect what actually happened once the truth is finally revealed. This is another enjoyable standalone from bestselling author, Scottoline!

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The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

After losing her mother when she was 18, Harriet (Hal) has had a hard time making ends meet. Her only source of income is the tarot card readings she does down by the docks, but it’s not enough to pay her bills.  She receives a letter from an attorney requesting her attendance at the house of Mrs. Westaway, for a reading of her last will and testament, to which Hal is named as beneficiary. Hal knows this is some kind of error, as Mrs. Westaway is not her grandmother.

With a loan shark knocking down her door, threatening her life if she doesn’t repay him, Hal, although apprehensive about deceiving this family, has no choice but to pretend to be a long lost relative to collect whatever amount is named in the will.  At the house, she meets the three siblings, Ezra, Abel, and Harding and the curmudgeonly old caretaker, Mrs. Warren. They assume that Hal is the daughter of Maude, their sister who left them years ago and who they assume must have died.

Hal plays along with the lie, but things might have gone too far when she learns that the entire estate has been left to her. Surely it will come out that she is a fraud so now she is really scared.  And there seems to be somebody messing with the attic room she is staying in to scare her away. And why would there be locks on the outside of the door? As she beings to delve into her own mother’s and Maude’s past, the two history’s collide to uncover a dark family secret.

I liked Ware’s latest enough to keep me reading, but some parts really seemed to drag on, especially all the details about the tarot cards. However, In a Dark, Dark Wood still remains by favorite.

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Free Trade by Lynda Aicher

The Boardroom is a high profile meet up of professionals that allows for their sexual desires to be sated. The men pick a woman’s name out of a bowl, which determines their sexual partner for the evening.

Drake Hanson is a Boardroom regular who will do whatever it takes to match with real estate agent Shelly Carrigan, the woman he wants the most.

However, Shelly is ashamed of what really gets her off and has difficulty expressing her fantasies. Could a man like Drake intuit what she wants? And would Shelly want to take their partnership beyond the Boardroom?

Aicher’s (Strictly Confidential) novella is sexy but a lack of interesting characters doesn’t provide anything memorable to keep readers wanting more.