Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library

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Odd Child Out By Gilly Macmillan

Detective Inspector Clemo from Mamillan’s What She Knew is called in to investigate the case of Noah Sadler, a teenage boy who fell into a canal and is now in a coma. After attending his father’s photo gallery exhibit, Noah, diagnosed with terminal cancer, and his childhood best friend, Abdi Mahad, sneaked out at some point during the night. No one knows what they were doing near Bristol’s scrap yard and canal, and Abdi refuses to speak.

Could Abdi be involved in some sort of fowl play that caused Noah’s fall? Tensions are already high in Bristol between residents and the immigrated Somalian population, which includes Abdi and his family. Steven Sadler, Noah’s father, is a photo journalist who has exhibited his work taking pictures of the inhumane conditions of Somalia and some of the refugee camps where Abdi had stayed. Was there something Abdi saw in one of the photos that may have set him off?

As Clemo digs into the investigation, he is confronted with Emma, his former girlfriend and ex cop, who is now working for the media and will do anything to get the story out to the public, even if it jeopardizes the case.

Although mildly entertaining enough, MacMillan’s latest isn’t really a standout in an already crowded psychological suspense genre and pales in comparison to her previous books.


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The Wrong Man by Kate White

In this standalone (White also writes the Bailey Weggins mysteries) novel, New York City interior decorator Kit Finn is on vacation and scouting out materials for a client in Islamorada, Florida. She runs into an intriguing man, Matt Healy, staying at her hotel who asks her for dinner. The attraction is so hot that Kit even lets him take her to bed, even though he is upfront about their night only be casual.

This is why she is surprised to hear from him back in NYC. He invites her over for dinner, but when she reaches Matt’s apartment, the man who lives there is not the same man who she met in Florida, although the stranger claims his name is Matt Healy. Completely bewildered, she doesn’t know what to think. And now the real Matt Healy wants Kit to talk to his hedge fund firm’s security manager because he believes his identify has been stolen.

Kit has been unwittingly drawn into a crime that has resulted in at least one death. When her Florida man returns on this scene claiming that he is a victim in all this, she questions if she can trust the man who has already deceived her once.

This was an equally entertaining read as White’s other books. My only complaint is that you wish Kit would have gone to the cop’s right away as most rational people would have done, so that might annoy some readers.

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Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

After the brutal murder of their father in a home invasion, the Locke family moves across the country to his family home in Lovecraft, Maine. As the family settles in, odd things begin happening in Key House. Nina is wrapped up in her grief after her husband’s death, and doesn’t take much notice of the strange happenings around her. Teens Tyler and Kinsey just aren’t paying much attention to their little brother as Bode discovers the magical keys to the house and what they can do. As they soon find out though, there’s a demon who wants the keys, and he’ll stop at nothing to get them.

If you’re looking for the perfect October read, this 6 volume series, plus the 2 prequel volumes, is just the ticket. It’s got the perfect blend of magic, horror, and adventure. Plus Joe has built some really great characters – maybe he took some lessons from mom & dad (Tabitha & Stephen King)? The artwork by Gabriel Rodriguez sets just the perfect tone, and I really hope that Mr. Hill & Mr. Rodriguez will collaborate on other projects. This series is in development for TV by Hulu, and will feature Danny Glover and Nate Corddry.


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Final Girls by Riley Sager

Quincy Carpenter lives in NYC and works as a food blogger. She believes she has moved on from her past and is content in her relationship with live-in boyfriend, Jeff. You see, Quincy is what the media has dubbed a “final girl,” or a person who is the sole survivor of a mass killing. Pine Cottage was a rental Quincy and her college friends stayed at in Pennsylvania one weekend for a birthday celebration but it turned into a bloody massacre when everyone was slaughtered, except Quincy. Quincy had been saved that night by a cop named Coop, who was searching the woods for a missing person and shot the assailant. Coop has been looking out for Quincy ever since.

Quincy’s life is about to be turned upside down when she learns that Lisa Milner, another final girl who survived a killing at a sorority in Muncie, Indiana, has committed suicide. And then the only other living final girl, Samantha Boyd, who went off the grid after the Nightlight Inn murders, wants to talk with Quincy. Sam doesn’t believe that Quincy has really moved past what has happened to her and wants her to unleash her pent up anger.

The reader, nor Quincy, know much about Sam or her motive for contacting Quincy. And to be honest, the reader can’t really even trust Quincy, who claims to have no recollection of what happened at Pine Cottage. This of course is one of the hallmarks of psychological thrillers; that is, a narrator who you can’t quite trust.

It kept my interest throughout, although I am a bit jaded because I’ve read so many of these psychological thrillers. Authors now seem to be so intent on including a shocking twist that sometimes is stretches believably a bit, and I feel that has what has been done here. However, overall, readers who can handle creepy and dark plots will like this one.

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Sourdough by Robin Sloan

When Lois Clary moves across the country from Michigan to San Francisco, she knew it would be a change, but certain things she didn’t expect. Like paying exorbitant rent on a tiny apartment that she hardly ever uses. Or the soul crushing hours that she’ll put in on her new job. Or the loneliness that she feels, since it’s difficult to make friends when all you do is work. When a menu for a new restaurant is tucked into her door, things begin to change for Lois. She begins by ordering the spicy hot soup, and when it arrives a few minutes later, with a side of the best bread she’s ever had, something begins to shift for her. Soon, Lois becomes the restaurant’s “number one eater”, and is taken by surprise when the owners show up at her door with a ceramic crock of their sourdough starter. The two brothers are being deported, but before they go, they show her how to keep the starter alive, and how to bake bread. There’s something magical about this bread, and the starter itself is truly alive, as Lois soon finds out. There’s something so basic and life affirming about the simple act of baking bread that is so opposite of Lois’ work at General Dexterity where she teaches robotic arms to do simple tasks, and Lois soon finds herself baking for her neighbors and coworkers, and being introduced to one of the city’s underground markets.

By the author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore, this novel is a treat to read. Contrasting high tech and simplicity, the book takes you on kind of a pop culture magic carpet ride through the Silicon Valley, secret markets, and the underground food world, and you will not be disappointed. I can’t wait to see where Mr. Sloan takes us next!

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What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan

Rachel Jenner is talking a walk in the woods with her son, Benedict, and their dog, Skittles, when Ben asks to walk ahead to ride the rope swing. Wanting to give him a little freedom and independence, she lets him go ahead. When she arrives at the rope swing, it is still in motion and Ben is nowhere to be seen. Unable to locate him after calling out and searching the area, she phones the police.

DI Clemo is assigned the case and requests Emma Chang to act as family liaison officer. Rachel is at her wits end and really only has her older sister Nicky for support.  Nicky is dealing with her own familial issues and has a secret she has kept from Rachel.

Despite massive search efforts and following up on leads, the more time passes, the less likely they are to find Ben alive. The media is attacking Rachel, suggesting she is at fault for letting her son run ahead. And social media has been crucifying her to the fullest extent as a terrible mother. But, it might take the only person who really knows her son, Rachel, to find him.

This is the second book I’ve read by Macmillan (see review for The Perfect Girland they are both strong contenders in the trending psychological thriller genre. The story unfolds between Rachel’s point of view and through DI Clemo’s, as he is seeing a therapist as a result of the Benedict Finch case. Although I am getting a bit burnt out of this genre, I would happily recommend Macmillan’s books to anyone who can handle a dark, twisty plot and child abduction.

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A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

Shortly after his wife goes missing leaving her purse at home, Tom learns that Karen was in a bad car accident where she drove into a pole. Although she wasn’t seriously injured, she has no recollection of the accident or what prompted her to drive into that pole.

A dead body of a man is found in an abandoned restaurant with gloves left at the scene. The police believe those gloves belong to Karen, but she lies in front of the police and Tom. Tom loves Karen and wants to trust her, but he also has secrets of his own she has yet to learn. And likewise, Karen has a history of a former life that she rather stay in the past.

Karen’s best friend and neighbor Bridget is watching all this activity going on from her big window across the street. She seems unusually interested in their lives. And she might know more than she is letting on about what happened to the dead man and why Karen ran into that pole. As the police launch their investigation, Karen swears that someone has been in their house, as things aren’t as she has left them. But, who would terrorize her and why? And has her past come back to haunt her?

I don’t know if I am just getting burnt out of the psychological suspense genre or the last few books I have read haven’t been that good. While this does have a decent twist at the end that readers won’t see coming, Lapena’s book is not nearly as good as her debut, The Couple Next Door.