Hey, everyone. I posted the first part of my April reviews last week. If you missed that post, you can find it here. Now for the second half.
Means to Deceive
This was my first time reading anything by author Alex Craigie. I’m glad I did.
If I had to summarize this book in one word, that word would be “wow!”
Gwen Meredith left her job and returned home in order to help care for her aging grandmother who is in the early stages of dementia. She takes a job as a learning support assistant in a local school. On the last day of the school year, she manages to make not only one but two, enemies. When a misinterpreted photo of her appears on social media, her problems really begin.
The situation quickly escalates—graffiti spray-painted on her car, weed killer used in her garden, dead goldfish in the backyard pond. Gwen also has a past event that has haunted her since childhood. She has support from her older brother Gethin, who comes to stay for a few days. There’s also a new neighbor, Ben, whom she becomes romantically interested in.
The book starts as a slow burn, but the suspense and tension increase until I didn’t want to put it down.
Although I figured out the culprit, the author threw in plenty of red herrings that kept me second-guessing. And the ending? You just need to read for yourself.
You can bet I’ll be reading more books from this author.
After reading Mae Clair’s review of this book, I immediately went to Net Galley to request an advanced reader copy. The book releases on May 31.
I almost always enjoy stories when there is an unsolved mystery from the past, so I was drawn to this one. Carolina Moonset did not disappoint.
Joey Green returns to Beaufort, South Carolina to visit his aging parents. He immediately recognizes something is wrong with his father. Marshall Green has been diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. His short-term memory is practically non-existent, but he can remember things from long ago in vivid detail. Marshall is also starting to hallucinate, another symptom of the disease.
The stress of caring for her husband has taken its toll on Carol Green. When she has an opportunity to accompany a friend to Florida for a Pickleball tournament, Joey encourages her to go, saying he’ll care for his father.
But when a prominent citizen of Beaufort is murdered, police suspect Marshall may be responsible. He hadn’t tried to hide his dislike of the man and his entire family. What’s worse is that an antique gun belonging to Marshall turns up missing and police determine it’s the same type of gun used in the murder.
Carolina Moonset is not only a murder mystery, but there is also romance, family dynamics, and enduring friendships. Both the major and minor characters are well-developed. The mystery of the past probably intrigued me the most, but I also was eager to learn the identity of the present-day killer.
The book has a comfortable pace—not exactly a page-turner, but neither a slow burn. I found it just right for the genre and recommend it to anyone who enjoys not only a good mystery but also for the enduring family dynamics.
Thanks to Net Galley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for an advanced reader copy.
The Bones of Amoret
Arthur Herbert is a new to me author. I learned of The Bones of Amoret after reading a review by Jan Sikes.
The book is set in a small west Texas town near the Mexico border and takes place in the early 1980s. Those two things alone were enough to pique my interest.
Noah Grady, the main character, is a doctor who is beloved by many. He has a good heart and does a lot to help the people of the community, particularly the Mexican immigrants. The story is told from Noah’s reflections forty years later in a conversation between him and an unknown reporter.
In 1982, Blaine Beckett, one of Amoret’s residents, goes missing. His burned-out Jeep was found in a dry creek near a box canyon outside of town. There is no sign of Blaine. The local sheriff investigates, and we soon learn that Noah has secrets, one of which is that he carried on an affair with Beckett’s wife. Because of this, he briefly becomes a suspect but is quickly ruled out. After all, there isn’t a body. Eventually, the sheriff surmises Beckett chose to disappear.
But in the meantime, there are plenty of events that keep a reader guessing. Besides his medical practice, Noah helps illegal immigrants cross into Texas. On one run, when a young man who is nearly dead of dehydration is found carrying drugs, it could cause a problem. Noah, with his good heart, can’t leave the man to die.
Shortly afterward, Noah and his family become targets of someone bent on revenge. Is it the drug cartel or is Beckett involved? The author lays out plenty of events that keep the reader guessing. Near the end, we learn Noah’s biggest secret of all, which came as a total surprise to me.
The book is well written, and the descriptions of the Texas landscape are superb. Herbert did a fantastic job of capturing small town life in the early 1980s. The characters are well developed. Of note, there are times when Noah jumps back to the present day in his conversation. The first time this occurred, it jarred me a bit, but once I realized what he was doing, the story flowed. After all, you’d expect an eighty-four-year-old to digress at times.
I’m confident I’ll be reading more books by this author.
Wrapping up my review for this month is a quick and fun read.
I picked up a free copy of this book after seeing a friend’s recommendation. The Resort is a fast read—perfect for the beach or a lazy afternoon.
Three couples, a single woman, and a single man are invited to spend a week at a brand-new resort with all expenses paid before it opens to the public. They are treated to a life of luxury—gourmet meals, spa treatments, and exclusive shopping excursions.
Told from the point of view of the four females, we soon learn that each of their lives aren’t what they seem. Some of the characters are likable, others are despicable, and one of them is downright creepy. The suspense builds, and the ending surprised me.
The book had mixed reviews—some readers liked it, others hated it, but I found it satisfactory—enough that I finished it in an afternoon.