Tuesday, January 30, 2024

The Spy Coast by Tess Gerritsen

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Tess Gerritsen's latest, The Spy Coast

For Maggie Bird, retired life is about keeping her chickens safe. A far cry from what she used to do for a living. 

See Maggie is one of a handful of retired CIA agents who now call the small town of Purity, Maine home. But her quiet retirement is about to come falling down around her. 

A woman has shown up telling Maggie that a fellow operative has gone missing. What's more, details of an op they worked together have been leaked. Which means Maggie's cover has been leaked. Later that same day, the woman is found murdered in Maggie's drive. 

Now Maggie will have to try and figure out who's behind it all, with the help of her fellow retirees. But as they run their own internal investigation, the local sheriff's department is also on the case. And sitting Sheriff Jo Thibodeau is starting to think there's something fishy about her town's newest residents. 

This first in a new series from Gerritsen is a bit of a change from her longtime Rizzoli and Isles series. And it is exceptional!

The Spy Coast introduces readers to Maggie Bird. And boy has she led a fascinating life!

While on vacation in Bangkok, decades ago, Maggie met and fell in love with Danny. A doctor traveling overseas, he's doing one last grand tour before returning to the UK where a steady job will offer him a chance to help his mother. 

But what begins as a benign, everyday life experience—meeting and falling in love—kicks a series of events into motion that has repercussions way down the line. 

A retired spy offers, I think, so many story possibilities! Not only do I hope we'll get more adventures from Maggie and her cohorts, but I absolutely love the idea of main characters outside the "normal" range we see. I was immediately drawn to this story simply because of the premise of following a former spy in their sixties! (And of course because it was Tess Gerritsen.)

The Spy Coast is a new favorite for me! I hope we get more of The Martini Club and would LOVE to see this get picked up for adaptation as well! Give me more!

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The Search Party by Hannah Richell

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Hannah Richell's latest, The Search Party

Annie and Max, Suze and Jim, Dominic and Tanya, Kira and Fred: Five college friends and their families checking out Annie and Max's new glamping endeavor for the weekend. It should be a great get together. A reunion of sorts, considering their last get together (for Kira's 40th) ended somewhat badly. 

And yet, nothing goes to plan. 

The country site offers wide open spaces for the kids to play and no wifi means no distractions. But tension sets in after just the first night. And as gray clouds roll in, threatening an unexpectedly bad storm, one of the group goes missing. 

By the Sunday, someone is dead. Someone is unconscious in the hospital. At least one partner is no longer speaking to the other. 

So first of all, I love a great thriller about old friends and juicy secrets and drama and tension! And that is exactly what you get with The Search Party. With the added bonus of knowing some of the aftermath from the start and getting pieces of it throughout. It's the kind of book that I like to guess along the way (and then get proven WRONG!). 

What's really fun about this one is that we get alternating POVs, giving readers a chance to see the different sides of the story as it progresses. But it also alternates timelines, which is how we get those pieces of what's happened. 

And Richell spreads them out in such a way that the tension builds and builds and builds until everything boils over!

The Search Party is a great thriller! Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware's In a Dark, Dark Wood, Lucy Foley's The Hunting Party, (obviously), and authors like Alice Feeney and Lisa Jewell, to name a few! It also makes for a great book club read, in my opinion, because there are so many complex characters (and their actions) to discuss!

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

One of the Good Guys by Araminta Hall

Good morning, everyone! Are we all snowed in? I know I am!

Today I'm a stop on the Random Things Tour for Araminta Hall's One of the Good Guys

Cole is looking for a new start. Something uncomplicated after the fallout with his wife, Mel. He'd always imagined a quiet life in the country, living off the land as much as he can, would be just the change they needed from the stress of Mel's job and their busy life in the city. But Mel stayed and Cole is living the country life on his own. 

When he meets Lennie, an artist renting a weather-beaten cottage nearby, he thinks he may have met a likeminded friend who could potentially become more. But then Lennie finds an abandoned tent thought to belong to two women trying to raise awareness of violence against women. 

As it happens, Cole had a run in with the women in question. And they filmed the encounter. And while he's not responsible for whatever their fate has become, he's afraid the run in alone will point the finger in his direction. 

Wow. I did not really know what I was in for with this one! And I will do my absolute best not to give anything away!

So the book begins from Cole's perspective. And the reader really does get a glimpse inside the mind of an ordinary guy. He's mourning the breakup with his wife, but still hopes they can reconcile. Other than that, he wakes early for a cold swim, he walks a lot, and he takes his job as a wildlife ranger seriously. 

The book then switches to Mel's and Lennie's POVs, interspersed with Twitter convos, Instagram posts, news pieces, and other commentary along the way. 

Thought provoking doesn't begin to describe this one. In fact, I found it turned my head into a whirlwind of thoughts! 

While this is published by Macmillan in the UK, US audiences will see that it's one of Gillian Flynn's imprint's titles, which should tell you something!

If you're a fan of twisted reads that will really make you think—and then reevaluate what you thought, and then do that again—One of the Good Guys is the read for you! I thought it was fabulous and would love to be a fly on the wall as other people read it as well!

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The Guests by Agnes Ravatn

Good morning and Happy New Year! I've been sick, but I've been reading, and my first post of the new year is a stop on the Random Things tour for Agnes Raven's The Guests!

Karin and Kai are due for a holiday. She's got the week off. Her in laws are watching the kids. But the plan is to spend the week working on renovations to their home. That is until a run-in with and favor for a childhood frenemie results in an invite to stay in a swanky water-front cottage. 

The "friend" in question is Ivy Vilden. A mean girl Karin finally broke away from in her school days. Today, Karin is an actress of some regard with a wealthy husband. And Karin is certain that the invite to use the "cottage" is just to make it clear how much farther Ivy has come in the world than Karin. 

But a cottage is a cottage and Karin and Kai deserve something nice. 

Then Karin meets the neighbors. And begins to create a tangle of lies about her and Kai's lives that threatens to overwhelm them. 

Woohoo! This was a rollercoaster of a read. A tense character study of insecurity and jealousy!

Karin is not at all likable. Probably because she serves as something of a mirror to every possibly insecurity a person can have these days. 

Her history with Ivy is fraught. But she overcame it. Something she'd always been proud of. And yet, it becomes clear from the start just how much influence Ivy still has over Karin. 

It's quite sad to watch Karin devolve into the the person she creates as the story continues. She perfectly illustrates how constant comparison, keeping up with the Joneses, can ruin even what should be a vacation in paradise. 

What's more, the neighbors in question and the train wreck Karin creates there is almost painful for various reasons. 

All of that might make this sound pretty negative. I get it! And yet, I read the whole thing in one sitting and came away with the unfortunate realization that I not only suffer some of the same insecurities, but can see just how easily a person dig such a hole!

Like I said, Karin is unlikable. But it's because Ravatn so cleverly illustrates just how bad envy can be if we allow it to overwhelm us!

Huge props to translator Rosie Hedger for bringing Karin and Kai and all of their faults to life for English audiences.